Read Matthew 10:21-36.This is not a concept that we particularly think about when we receive Jesus as our Savior. We see Him as as the one to forgive ours sins and that we will do things His way instead of our own. But do we really count the cost we will pay from those around us? Do we hear the insults and disdain that we may confront -- even from those who are closest to us but don't understand nor have received the Truth?
"All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." NIV
I think some people do, but not many. Most of us walk into Christianity because we have finally heard the Holy Spirit's call to our hearts; we've messed our life up enough on our own and need a salvation from the path we have taken. But to anticipate opposition -- I believe very few people contemplate the consequences of walking the believer's life.
Jesus' warnings as written here are extreme and dangerous. It sounds like we are walking into a war zone rather than accepting a lifestyle of quiet reverence and piety. But Jesus is placing the reality in front of our eyes -- worse for some than for others -- but the truth none the less.
Whether on a small scale of insults to persecution by death, we will all face some opposition to the choice we have made to follow Christ. And we must decide beforehand what we will do in those situations. Jesus says first in vs. 22 to "stand firm to the end." He also says in vs. 23 that if "you are being persecuted in one place, flee to another. We aren't required to stand and take the punishment if there is a way to leave it. "Stand" in vs 22 refers to enduring by abiding with Christ no matter what.
The idea of facing persecution is not one that any of us want to contemplate. But a healthy view hinges on the right perspective. We see this laid out in verses 28-31. True life is not about these 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that we live here in a flesh and blood existence. True life is what is still to come. This is just a temporary stop. Too often we want to make the life we live now the end all, and it just simply isn't. There is so much more living we have to do and that will be in eternity with our Lord -- either after the resurrection or through physical death.
If we can look at life in the temporal as we should, then death is nothing to fear. Perfect healing comes with the perfect body we will have in heaven. So anyone can do anything to me here on this earth -- physically, psychologically, or emotionally -- but they cannot touch my soul. I am a child of the King, and I have the promise of an inheritance that goes far beyond anything this world can give me. The only fear I should experience is in reverent fear before the Almighty. If I do not follow Him and declare Him as Lord, He will disown me. He is a jealous God and will not abide competition for my affections. He is to be the one and only Lord.
I have already experienced the separation that can occur in relationships because I have chosen this path -- to belong to Christ. It is not easy; in fact, it's very painful. Only through prayers and the power of the Holy Spirit have I been able to stand. But stand I will to the end. My Lord is great and no one nor anything will separate me from my Father's love nor my love from Him.
- Joseph was persecuted multiple times -- even by family. But what does he say to his brothers in the end? Read Genesis 50:20.
- Are we required to forgive the ones who persecute us? Read Matthew 6:14-15 and related post, and Luke 23:33-34.
- Here is another post on persecution.
- Persecution can be really difficult to come to grips with while in the midst of it. But we have promises to hold on to. Read Romans 8:28, Psalm 37:1-2, 2 Corinthians 4:-12, 2 Timothy 1:11-12, 1 Peter 3:13-14 and STAND.