As children of God, what we accumulate and experience here on earth isn’t our reward. Earth is something we endure in order to receive an eternal reward, and as children of God who endure to the end, great is that reward! Tweet this!
That is why we don’t have to fear persecution!
As we saw in our last blog, The Bible’s Perspective on Persecution: Blessed Are We!, Jesus uses the word when, not if the first time He talks about persecution (Matthew 5:11, Luke 6:22).
It’s a fact. It will happen. And Jesus says we’re blessed because of it. He also says, “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23).
Say what?!?! Rejoice and leap for joy when people hate, exclude, revile, and cast us out? That’s a pretty strong picture that is completely opposite how I would naturally respond to persecution. How in the world?!?!
But the Bible proves it’s possible, and it tells us how and why and what to do.
I know this isn’t a feel-good topic we want to sit and ponder, but hang with me! I promise the encouragement and hope the word of God holds for us even in this is about as feel-good as it gets!
Even hard truth is truth that sets us free, and He whom Jesus sets free is free indeed. Free of fear, worry, and the burdens the devil uses to tear us down and destroy us. Tweet this!
Jesus is hope, and without hope, we have nothing ourselves and nothing to offer our children or others. He is the answer. Not an answer. The answer (see The One Way of Salvation).
Remember the themes we identified in Romans 8:25-39 when we looked at The Bible’s Promise of Persecution: Are We Ready? The first one is eternity, followed by hope and endurance. We’re actually going to talk about these in later blogs, but in order to even go there, we must know and begin to absorb and adopt Jesus’ perspective on life.
Because if life is what we in our flesh think it should be for our pleasure, accomplishment, accumulation, and satisfaction, then we are going to struggle with having hope and endurance to persevere through persecution. Tweet this!
When we are saved by grace, and through faith we accept God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ, an exchange takes place: Jesus’ life for ours. The death penalty we deserve is satisfied in Christ, and therefore the life we now live is His, not ours, and to us “it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29).
The way we view what happens to us here on earth must be through the lens of what our life here is really all about, because according to Jesus, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). Tweet this!
After his radical encounter with Jesus Christ in the midst of a campaign to persecute New Testament Christians, Paul the persecuted, who was previously Saul the persecutor, understood and preached the essence of life in Christ. From prison, he wrote to the church at Philippi:
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:19-21).
Because of prayer and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can expect to have the boldness necessary for Christ to be magnified in our bodies as we live and even if we are required to die. Tweet this!
And it’s okay either way because truly living is living for Christ! And if we die, then it’s our gain because that’s when we receive our eternal reward.
If we can get this, and adopt God’s perspective on suffering, then Paul’s words in Romans 8:18 will become ours: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Don’t even bother trying to compare them!
How I long for Paul’s words in Philippians 3:7-11 to be the genuine sentiment of my heart, the theme of my life in Christ:
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Everything I think is important that has nothing to do with the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus is rubbish! Tweet this!
May Jesus’ words challenge each of us today:
If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works (Matthew 16:24-27).
Our flesh will want to gain the world, but the cost is our soul. Tweet this!
We aren’t here for ourselves; we’re here for God’s glory. His purpose. His use. That is the perspective that will get us through persecution. Tweet this!
Remember, SUBSCRIBE below to receive blog posts directly to your email, and spread the word. You’ll also receive a free copy of my eBook Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, a six-week, scripture packed guide for becoming unshakable. Christians will discover complacency and compromise as a root of the despair that plagues us, individually and as a nation, and biblical instruction for how to experience the fullness of God’s promises through obedience to His word. The result is hope that is an anchor for our souls, sure and steadfast, no matter what, and lives that become powerful platforms for preaching the gospel – the only true and eternal answer to our personal and national crises. Every Christian needs to read this book! Be sure to get yours, and then spread the word!
Also, at the end of this series, I will produce a eBook with all seventeen blogs, and you will receive your copy free as soon as it’s released! The desire of my heart is to see the body of Christ experience the unsearchable riches of Christ by becoming wholly His through understanding and obeying God’s word. If this resource helps just one person, it has been worth every bit of time and effort. Once you receive it, then pass it along to others!
For all the blogs in this series to date, visit Unshakable Hope in the Face of Persecution.
Lord, we need Your perspective on what’s important about our life here on earth. Help us to love Jesus more than we love whatever we think will give us more pleasure or satisfaction. Thank You for His life, the gift of salvation, and the eternal rewards that await us when we live and give our lives for Christ, becoming more wholly His every day.
FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION:
- Jesus says in John 12:25, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” To love our life is to have a fondness and affection for life in its literal meaning and life as it refers to our feelings, desires, affections, and aversions. Would you say you love or hate your life in this world? If you took an inventory of how you spend your time and how you interact with others, how would your time answer that question?
- Read Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:26: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” What are you trying to gain from this world? Again, look at how you spend your time. What does your time say you’re trying to gain? In what ways have you or might you pay with your soul?
- Philippians 1:29 tells us, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29). According to the Greek word for granted, charizomai (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5483&t=NKJV), Paul is telling us that because of Christ’s kindness, and by His pardon of our sins, it is a pleasant and agreeable thing – a favor – that we should suffer for His sake. Why would He be doing us a favor that we would suffer for His sake?