Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude… (1 Peter 4:1)
Persecution is coming to America. It’s happening all over the world and it has always been just a matter of time until it begins here.
Jesus Himself warned us this was going to happen. "Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Mark 13:13)
This was a big part of Peter’s writing. As soon as he was done with his greetings at the beginning of his letter, he got right into it, in the thirteenth verse: Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (ESV) In telling the readers to prepare their minds for action, he was letting us know that we need to expect things to heat up—this isn’t going to be easy. He tells us to set our hopes fully on the grace we will see when Jesus comes back, because we can’t hope for any help from this world. If we set our hopes partially on this world and partially on God, we are going to be unarmed for the battles ahead.
In the first chapter of Philippians, Paul warns us, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you…For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…" The word “granted” was not used lightly. Paul was telling them that suffering for Jesus was a great privilege. This mindset is lived out in Acts 5:40-41: "…They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name."
I’m not glamorizing the suffering which is going on around the world as Christians are killed, starved and imprisoned. Suffering is devastatingly real. It hurts on every level. But I am repeating what I have heard firsthand from Christians around the world who have already been through this, that the Holy Spirit will fill us with His power when our time comes.
Two years ago I had a long conversation with one of the heads of an American missions organization. What he told me dovetailed with what I’ve been seeing myself. He said that for decades his company had been categorizing all the countries around the world as “persecuted” or “free”. Things have changed so much in recent times that now they no longer list any countries as “free” but instead list only the differing levels of the persecution, even counting America in that list.
We live in a time of growing evil, where we see truth thrown to the ground (Daniel 8:11) and people are calling evil good and good evil, who are putting darkness for light and light for darkness. (Isaiah 5:20) As we see all this lived out around us, it’s a wake up call for us to prepare our minds for action and set our hopes fully on the grace to be given us when Jesus is revealed.
For more on preparing our minds - see “Our Thought Life”
© 2017 Darvis McCoy
About the Picture: The picture used for this devotion was taken in 2012 in Ethiopia. It is of the new church built to replace the one that had been burnt down by Muslims a year earlier.
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