PERSECUTION

2 Timothy 3:12: “Indeed, all who are not being persecuted, do not desire to live a godly life.”

It is always interesting to flip the structure of biblical passages and ask if the contrary is also true. One example is 2 Timothy 3:12, which states: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” So the converse of this verse could be read as: “Indeed, all who are not being persecuted, do not desire to live a godly life.” Interesting question. Because I am not being persecuted, and I would argue essentially no one in the United States is, am I desiring to live a godly life? Ouch! If you think we are being persecuted in the United States, please consider the following statistics from OpenDoors (https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/):

In just the last year*, there have been:
  • Over 340 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination
  • 4,761 Christians killed for their faith
  • 4,488 churches and other Christian buildings attacked
  • 4,277 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.

Furthermore, it is very easy to biblically argue that sharing in Christ’s sufferings and persecutions should be the norm for the believer. Consider these verses:
  • Philippians 1:29 – For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake. [Emphasis added]
  • Mark 10:29-30 – Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the gospel, who will 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. [Emphasis added]
  • John 15:18-21 – “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know Him who sent Me. [Emphasis added]
  • Acts 14:22 – [S]trengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. [Emphasis added]

I am not saying we should seek persecution. However, I would argue we should not be seeking comfort either. I regularly ask myself, “Am I living my life the way I am because it is easier and safe? Am I taking the easy road? Do I really desire to live a godly life? I want to say yes, but do my actions say otherwise?

* 2021 World Watch List reporting period

by Michael Burner, Co-Chair of the Deacon Board

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