“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12) It’s not like it should be a requirement, or a law or anything like that, and it probably would not have changed my mind, but this is one of those things that most people do not hear from those that are witnessing for Christ to them for the first time.
“Oh, by the way, now that you’re saved, you should expect persecution, for not only will most of your family members probably desert you, but the world, almost all of them, are now going to hate you. And before I forget, if you pray for wisdom, you will also receive lots of grief and sorrow.”
When you were saved, were these things mentioned to you? I would guess probably not. There is the main problem with the Charismatic movement, and in a way the church of the last few decades, Jesus is only love, and everything from now on is just going to be great.
Almost everyone that I am blessed to witness to when it seems that they are almost prepared to make a decision for Christ, I warn them. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28) The more we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, (2 Peter 3:18) the closer that He draws us to Himself, the more we believe in the promises, the bolder for Christ we become.
An effectual servant of the Almighty is one who has been tested, not always, but usually in the way of suffering, whether it is physical or mental, for those who truly desire to know Him better must be a part of the fellowship of His suffering. (Phil. 3:10) “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)
The unsaved are wicked, sinful people, they prefer the dark, not the light, and all of us who are crucified with Christ walk in the light, and so they hate us. No one wants to initially be shown their sins, those of us who seek to walk with Him desire that not only He show us our sins, but how not to continue in them. By not dishonoring Him in anyway, we glorify Him, and man’s purpose in this life is to glorify God. “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.” (Psalm 57:11) But still, it would have been nice, or at least polite, to have been told that there lays a very rough, turbulent and dangerous road ahead when that day arrived that I laid my burdens down at the cross and promised to follow Him.
Would any of us change our minds? Of course not, do any of us seek for the pain and suffering, no way. Will we do all that is necessary to avoid it? No. We have been given the down payment of the Holy Spirit, (Eph. 1:13-14) we have on, or at least you should have on, the armor that God has given you, (Eph. 6:13-17) and you have the promise of eternal life, but there will be suffering for all who would live godly.
There is no real way to prepare for what comes our way besides the Word of God, the examples we have from those that have come before us. There are many accounts in books written by men of God that can also assist us, but we are all individuals, and that is how the Lord deals with us, in a personalized way. What might be suffering for one may not even be counted by another, but the guarantee is this, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) And that cross, in part, is how well we accept the sufferings that He allows to enter into our lives.
One must pray for spiritual discernment to be able to understand the difference between chastisement and events that the Lord brings into our lives to help us to grow in our trust of Him, the sufferings, those we intentionally bring upon ourselves count for nothing, unless they are for His glory. Many men much wiser than myself have made this statement and I agree with them, if you are not suffering in some way for Christ, you are not saved. Perhaps it’s time to check yourself, to see if indeed you are living a godly life.