Share in suffering for the Gospel

Charles L. Stanley

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God…which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do… Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus… Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal…As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

2 Timothy 1:8122:3,94:5

Everyone who follows Jesus should anticipate that they will suffer because of their submission to the Lordship of Jesus. I know this is not a popular topic. Many preachers would never preach this because they would be afraid of the mass exodus they might see from their church. But, the word of God makes it clear that

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

2 Timothy 3:12

Today I am writing from what I perceive is coming in the not too distant future for Christians in the United States. I have never claimed to be a prophet, nor do I now. However, I hope I am able to have enough sense to anticipate what is happening in our country, and it is not good for Christians who are not willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel and the truth of God’s word.

In recent years, the clash between Biblical values and our contemporary cultural values has become pretty straightforward. The apparent incoming administration in Washington DC is committed to strongly opposing those values. I believe that we will see in the next months to come a heavy-handed approach to extending abortion rights, sexual ethics that are opposed by Scripture, the further degradation of the image of God in humanity, and clear opposition to the preaching/teaching of God’s word. In the recent past, bakers have had to endure protracted lawsuits to carry on their business within their Christian values. The Little Sisters of Mercy have had to fight in the Supreme Court to practice their values for life. The new administration has reportedly pledged to revisit this issue and force religious institutions to bow to Moloch and allow for abortion funding through insurance, etc., even though it goes against the institution’s beliefs.

These are, I believe, harbingers of difficult days ahead for believers in Jesus. Not that we will be hung on poles, doused with tar, and burned to light up the pathway to the Governor’s mansion a la Emperor Nero. But we may find we have to choose between Jesus and a job. We may end up suffering economically for our faith. We will be ostracized from certain segments of society where our thinking is considered archaic and foolish.

The days of Christians being able to float through life without having to exercise conviction will soon be long gone.

One good thing to come from this is that we will not be dealing with “cultural Christians” because the culture won’t want Christians. We will either be truly submitted to the Lordship of Jesus, or we won’t be claiming to be Christian.

In some ways, I reluctantly welcome these days. Believers will really be believers and not pretenders. There will be much more true joy because believers won’t be faking it. Faith will be real.

I believe we will witness more of the power of God in our lives as well. It seems that God has always shown up in a more dramatic way when persecution is underway. I will be glad about that.

Do I want suffering? Absolutely not. I am not a masochist. I would love for life to be a Summer afternoon lying in the daisies under the shade of a tree as the brook babbles by. A Little-House-on-the-Prairie-opening-scenes kind of life. But that is the stuff of fiction, not reality. Our world has real evil in it, and we will be in more significant conflict with it than in the past in the United States.

So, what do we do?

Expect to suffer.

Then give it all to Jesus and become a more devoted disciple than ever. Commit yourself to become an intentional disciple-maker. In this future kind of atmosphere, the Kingdom of God will flourish. There will be multitudes of people who will see the reality of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will convict them of their need for saving. Just as the church in China has multiplied under the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression and torture, the church in the United States will do the same. So, if we seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, we should welcome the future.

The bottom line is that I think it is time for we Christians to really get serious about our walk with the Lord. Fear God only, and do not fear man. Take time to study the Book of Acts from this perspective and see what it was like for our earliest Christian forefathers. Expect a Book of Acts kind of Christianity. It is dangerous, and it is glorious.

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