Endure Until The End
Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.C.S. Lewis
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.2 Timothy 3:12
Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.Proverbs 4:25
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to keep the end goal in mind.
We are to endure, knowing that hardships and trials are meant for our benefit. Difficulties are an opportunity for us to grow and be shaped in purity- becoming more like Christ.
Recently, I began reading, “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”. If any book should wake up Western Christians to the reality of persecution, torture, and martyrdom for their faith, this would be it. The book is a historical record of the tragic and amazingly triumphant stories of men and women who have called Jesus their Lord and Savior without waver.
Many in the early church suffered crucifixions, beheadings, being burnt at the stake, and were fed to lions in a stadium full of onlookers. Naked bodies were often piled up in the streets with firm instructions not to bury them. The dead were to be an example of what would happen if one refused to deny Christ.
Amazingly, despite the massive amount of persecution and martyrdom for Christ, the Gospel only spread further. Christians chose to endure until the end for the sake of the truth.
The behavior, grace, love, and dedication that Christians showed until the end drew even more people to know Jesus. Death could not stop the truth from spreading.
To some, persecution may seem like a cruelty of the past. But with just a small amount of research, the evidence is quite clear that Christians are the most widely persecuted group of people in the world. From China’s re-education camps, to Nigeria’s slaughter of men, women, and children who proclaim Jesus as their Savior, martyrdom for Christ is still very much present. And yet we hear little about it on the news.
I still find my head spinning when some claim, “Christian persecution will never come the West”. I’m always curious to know, “Why do you think that?” There’s nothing in the Bible that claims Christians in the West will never experience persecution, and so it leaves me wondering where are people placing their hope? In government? Are we wishfully hoping persecution will never come because of the comfortable distractions we have?
We are already seeing a rise in attacks on Christian families, businesses, and churches in the West, and I have no doubt that greater persecution could come. Will it come? I don’t know that answer, but in God’s Word, we are told to be prepared for it. We are to expect persecution, hardships, and trials as believers. It shouldn’t be a surprise to us.
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad- for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”1 Peter 4:12-13
Have you ever asked yourself the hard questions? What would you do if someone had a gun to your head and asked you to denounce Jesus as Lord? What would you do if you had to denounce Christ or else your loved ones would be sent to re-education camps? What would you do if your family was about to be beheaded before you unless you recanted the name of Jesus? While these questions seem graphic, to many of our brothers and sisters in Christ this is a reality.
Regardless of whether this will ever happen in the West, we are expected to have an answer. Our response cannot be based out of fear or uncertainty, rather it must be based on the truth and peace that God has so lovingly placed in our hearts.
The distractions of this world are fleeting, but life with Jesus is forever. One day, Jesus will return and make everything right. Until then, we are to stand firm in our faith, enduring until the end, and keeping the end goal in mind.
May we encourage one another in love and truth, united in the name of Jesus.
Links & Resources on Christian Persecution: