As those living in America, we are often appalled at the persecution of Christians around the world. Beatings, imprisonments, even murders. These are becoming more and more prevalent across the globe. Especially in nations that are predominantly Muslim, such persecution is relatively commonplace.
Yet, Paul told Timothy, his son in the faith, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). I find that statement fascinating. It does not suggest that some Christ-followers will be persecuted. Not even a majority. No, it says that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
I think that we in America have been, at least for a time, largely spared from most persecution. The reason should be obvious. Our nation was founded on Christian principles, and many of the founding fathers were believers. Wholesale persecution in that environment would seem out of order, right?
But in the ensuing two centuries, that atmosphere has changed dramatically. Attempts to live a godly life in our society today are often met with ridicule or scorn. Sometimes worse. Yet, if our lives aren’t markedly different from those of the world, we’re not truly desiring to live a godly life, are we?
Peter said it like this: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:12-14). Persecution is not “something strange.” It is the lot for those who truly follow the Savior.
Don’t panic. God is with you. And He always will be. We have the assurance of His promise. At the same time, don’t be surprised when you are persecuted as a follower of Christ.