Are there challenges standing out for Christ? The possibility of challenges makes some people not to decide for Jesus; however, that will be foolishness. The truth is that if you are for Christ, you will have, not only blessings but also challenges, and being prepared for it will enable you to stand till the end. This article tells you more about these challenges.
So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time-houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions-and in the age to come, eternal life - Mark 10:29-30 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
Standing for Jesus Christ is the wisest decision to take. It has numerous blessings BUT with challenges. When you are not prepared for them or refuse to acknowledge them, they will overcome you. That will not be your portion in Jesus name. In Mark 10:29-30, Jesus assures you of the benefits of living for Him but He added persecution. You are not to be ignorant of this truth, so that you will not be destroyed (Hosea 4:6). The summary of all challenges is persecution.
No true child of God will escape persecution. Is this to scare you? No, it is to prepare you. Persecutions come in different forms; it can be mild or severe, subtle or obvious. It can come from your family, colleagues, associates or the society. But in all, you should like Paul not allow any of these challenges to move you; don't count your life dear to you so that you can finish the race with joy (Acts 20:24). I always remind people that eternity is more than a few years on earth. Even if you live up to 150 years, you will still die one day. 150 years is like a tiny drop of water compared to eternity. The highest your persecutor can do is kill your body, but God is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28), so fear Him instead.
The persecutions are all orchestrated by the enemy. One of the devil's missions on earth is to make war with those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17). He knows that his time is short and that he has no place any more in heaven (Revelation 12:8, 12), so he wants to stop as many people as possible from getting to heaven. You will make it in Jesus name! He will use anyone who is available, mostly unbelievers but also carnal Christians. However, don't weep, for the Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed, and be of good cheer for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Victory is yours if you endure till the end.
Persecution didn't start today. For example, in Daniel 6, Daniel was persecuted for his faith in God. He chose to be different in spite of the consequences. He did not count his life dear to him. He continued to pray to God even though he knew the lions' den was waiting for him should he be apprehended. Surely, he was charged and thrown into the lions' den; thank God, God delivered him. But why was he persecuted? It was because he distinguished himself above the others, did his job faithfully and excellently, and king Darius thought to set him over the whole realm.
Also, Paul had a lot of persecutions for the name of Christ. After, persecuting the Christians himself (1 Corinthians 15:9), he had his own share of persecutions. He was carrying about in the body the dying of Christ so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in his body (2 Corinthians 4:8-12), but the good news is that God delivered him from all the persecutions (2 Timothy 3:11).
WHY THE PERSECUTION?
People have different reasons for persecuting others; some people do so because of hatred, envy, jealous, greed and ignorance, while some do so to cover their evil. I will group these reasons into three goals:
To make you to join them
To eliminate you
To hinder your progress
To make you to join them
When you are different for Jesus, the light in you will expose the darkness in another (Ephesians 5:12-13). The person will either follow you, try to make you follow him or her, or avoid your presence. And if the person doesn't want to follow you to serve God, the light of Christ in you will make him uncomfortable. The discomfort, anger and fear of being exposed will make him to try to get you to join him in the evil, and if you refuse he may resort to persecution. He may tell lies against you, criticize everything you do, with the mission of destroying your reputation or getting you into trouble. And if you are not strong in the Lord, you may succumb to the pressure and join him in doing the evil so you can have your 'peace'.
For instance, a Christian girl that is persecuted by her boss because she refused to sleep with him may be thrown into choosing to continue to work there or not; and in this time that unemployment rate is high, if she is not strong enough in the Lord she may give in to the pressure from the boss and sin against God.
To eliminate you
Another goal of your persecutor for standing for Christ may be to kill you so that you cease to be a problem to him or her. Your presence to him or her is a threat that should be removed permanently. Your elimination will enable him to continue in his evil or cover the evil already done. However, you need not fear him but God who will not only destroy the body but also the soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). Daniel was a threat to those governors and satraps, so they decided to eliminate him using the lions' den.
Furthermore, if your persecutor fails to get you to join him, he may decide to eliminate you and feel justified for doing so. After all you refused to stand for his cause or agree with his opinion which he believes is right.
The Jews kept trying to kill Jesus Christ because He was different from them (John 8:40, Matthew 12: 10-14). His light was exposing the darkness in them and they didn't want to change. His teachings they called blasphemy (John 10:31-39). Praise God, they couldn't kill Him until the appointed time!
To hinder your progress
The enemy will not be happy to see you progressing being different for Jesus. He will want to see you suffering so that you will denounce Christ. He will use people and circumstances to hinder your progress. When king Darius thought of making Daniel head over the whole realm, the enemy tried to hinder his progress through people (Daniel 6). They tried different ways to accuse him but found none except in his faith in God.
Also, the apostles after the death of Jesus continued to preach the gospel of Christ. God confirmed their words with great signs and wonders (Mark 16:20), multitudes turned to Christ for salvation, and the disciples increased greatly (Acts 6:7). In addition to their exploits, they encountered persecutions from the Jews. At one time in Acts 4:1-22, the Jews persecuted Peter and John for preaching and healing in the name of Jesus. They were threatened and commanded never to speak again in His name, so that it spreads no further among the people.
I thank God that they didn't heed to their instructions not to spread the gospel of Christ again. They went back to their company and fortified themselves in prayer (Acts 4:23-31). And that is why you and I are believers today.
The first disciples of Christ were heavily persecuted but they stood strong till the end. The gospel of Christ we are privileged to partake of didn't come to us without a price. Many people were tortured and killed generation after generation for the gospel of Christ to get to us. And even now, many people are still paying the price for others to know the truth and for it to get to the next generation. It will not end with us!
Persecution is real and will continue as long as this world still exits, because the spread of the gospel will continue till the end (Matthew 24:14) and the enemy will keep fighting it. Therefore, prepare for challenges, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10), and the Lord will deliver you from all persecutions.
Ngozi Nwoke is a teacher, counselor and author of "Peace Money Can't Buy" and "The Man Jesus" . She has a passion to teach people how to enjoy peace, God's love and christian living for more fulfilling life. Want more fulfilling life? Subscribe for free email updates today. http://stepswithgod.co
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