Verse: 2 Timothy 3:10-15 (ESV)
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,
11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
If you’ve been in or around the Christian faith in the last 20 or so years, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Prosperity Gospel”. If you’re not familiar, it basically goes like this…if you aren’t enjoying material blessings in your earthly life, it’s because your faith isn’t strong enough. Just have more faith and God will give you that house, car, yacht, winning lottery ticket, etc.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? A reward for doing well. Makes all the sense in the world. If only it were true. We need only look as far as verse 12 above to see that it’s not. Which is why it’s so surprising and so sad that so many people have been led astray by such teachings. Which is not to say, by the way, that Christians CAN’T be prosperous. God can certainly choose to bless his followers with material things if he chooses. But following him absolutely does not guarantee it.
Paul tells us, in no uncertain terms, that everybody who truly follows Christ is guaranteed one thing, and it’s not fame and fortune. It’s that they “WILL BE PERSECUTED”. Christianity is sounding a lot less appealing all of a sudden, isn’t it? But think about what it means to be a Christian; a Christ-follower; someone who patterns their life after Christ. What is the preeminent characteristic of Christ’s life on earth? He was killed even though he didn’t deserve it. Doesn’t get more persecuted than that, does it?
So, if we want to be followers of Christ, we need to expect to be treated similarly. Most of us won’t be killed, of course. But we could undergo anything from playful taunting, to career repercussions, to (depending on where you are in the world) very real threats and experiences of physical violence. And, as counter-intuitive as it seems, we should not only endure it, we should desire it! Because we know that persecution comes from the enemy, Satan. And if he can’t be bothered to spend time persecuting us, it must mean we are not much of a threat to him. So, let’s put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6), be prepared for his attacks, and live lives full of faith.
God, please remove any fear in me that would hold me back from living a life worthy of being persecuted in your name. Give me boldness to proclaim your Gospel, and endurance to withstand the attacks of the enemy. Amen.