Thursday, August 21, 2008

Godly Life Persecuted

“Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.... Do not be afraid of them.... Do no suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:17, 26, 34 NIV

...everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12 NIV
What is there about a godly life that results in persecution? If I’m not persecuted, does it mean my life isn’t as godly as it should be? Since Christians in North America are not persecuted, does that mean our idea of godliness is warped by our culture and we’re simply fooling ourselves when we believe we are being faithful to God? Why is it that Christianity is growing like wildfire in places like Africa and China but not in North America (or Europe, for that matter)? What do they have that we don’t? Believers in China and Islamic countries certainly know the truth of the verses above. Why don’t we?

I love reading the stories of Christians who have been persecuted. Their courage and faith is far beyond mine. The restrictions of laws against Christianity don’t stop them from not only living godly lives but preaching the gospel wherever they are regardless of the consequences. In fact, I read one underground Chinese pastor say that if Christians in China kept their mouths closed about their Christianity there would be no persecution; but most are not satisfied with this. To them it is urgent to invite as many people into the kingdom as possible.

What about us? What about me? As a Christian in the workplace I can function without any recrimination. But what if I started urging my fellow employees to follow Jesus? Or our clientele? What then? Am I willing to do this even if I’m threatened with losing my job? If so threatened, would I continue unabated? If I did and was fired, would someone else hire me? Would I repeat what I did in the first job? What constitutes a godly life? Is persecution real if I can avoid it? Should I try to avoid it? How do I know?

God, I know I’m a coward. Job security is more important to me than bringing people to your salvation; so is my comfort and reputation. That’s not very godly at all, is it? Would you call that idolatry? I think you might. But then what? How do I break free of my cultural restraints? How do I know when to speak and when to keep silent? I’m afraid of where these questions are taking me. Do I want to know the answers to my questions? If I don’t like what I hear, would I still do it? God, help me!

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