The Cost One Must Pay to Follow Christ

I previously talked about the spiritual war that we are currently in and now I would like to address the grounds for that war.  In a spiritual war the bone of contention is that there are two sides fighting for different outcomes.  One side is fighting for darkness to reign and the other side is fighting for light to stand, shine on and defeat the darkness.  Imagine being attacked just because of your beliefs.  Every day arrows are flung at you.  Taunts thrown about and violence incurs from all of this.  You, my Christian friend, are currently in a war whether you like it or not and persecution is coming our way. Sacrifice will be a choice to make or to run from and death will be the casualty of this war.  I am not trying to alarm you, but rather to prepare you for what lies ahead.  As we turn to The Bible, we see many times that persecution occurs and that even Jesus himself was persecuted. 

First, let us get a clearer definition of what persecution is and what it means to be persecuted.  Persecution means to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict specifically: to cause to suffer because of said belief (Merriam-Webster).  In most countries the Christian believer has been persecuted and often, dies from this persecution.  The US has not seen much the full depth of persecution, but it is on the way and it will cost every believer.  You may lose your livelihood, your friends, and yes, even your life.  We are all called to stand up during these trials for God and the greater good and sacrifice must be surrendered to God alone.

We need to get into the right frame of mind.  Jesus gave his life for us and we must now make a choice.  Do we continue to follow Him and stand up or do we bail and seeks to satisfy our own needs and risk spending eternity in Hell?  I chose to stand even when it is hard.  I chose to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.  When I asked Jesus into my life, I made my choice.  I said I will follow you and I stand behind that statement no matter the cost.

He taught me to love my neighbor so why would I leave them at their lowest point?  I have been commissioned to spread the gospel and I want to see a great awakening that brings many more to our Lord.  I refuse to give up on that.  We know the reason for war, but who are the opponents and where is this war being waged?  The opponents are good versus evil as we learn in Ephesians 6:11-12, the devil is behind this along with his minions.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Once you know who the opponent is, only then can you truly begin to strategize – put a plan into motion.  As Christians we know Jesus won the war and God, when He predestined us, gave us every spiritual blessing, and equipped us for this fight.  We have it because of Him, and we eventually won it because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Ephesians 6:14-18 continues to explain what the soldier for Christ must wear to prepare for this war.

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”

Though this war is waged in a different realm, we feel the after-effects on our physical earth.  Throughout life we have had our ups and downs.  The valleys were barren at times and the harvest was full at other times, but we took everything for granted and we forgot how truly blessed we have been.  As each year passes, the rift grows wider – the lines that once were solid and well defined, are now blurred and harder to identify.  I am not sure what this fight will fully entail, but keep in mind that we brought ourselves here due to complacency and ungratefulness, and by not keeping God first in our life.  We may get a respite with time to grow and repent or this may be the end of our nation.  Time will tell one way or another, but with either scenario, I choose to stand up.

During this current political climate, I believe that we need to ask God for strength to endure the fight and courage to make a stand.   Jesus is and will always be with us.  He has personally experienced persecution and tells us that we, too, will experience it.  Matthew 16:24-26 calls us to turn from (deny) our sin and follow him.  By doing this we trust Jesus to break the power of sin in our lives.  We now live for Christ and we identify with His rejection, shame, suffering and death.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

Do not worry or be anxious, but accept that this is the cost a Christian must pay to follow Him as we see in several verses:  Matthew 5:10-11 tells us that we are blessed when we are persecuted by this world, Paul suggests that we find contentment in 2 Corinthians12:10, 2 Timothy 3:12 guarantees that all Christians suffer persecution, albeit on different levels, Romans 8:35 shows us that it brings us closer to God when we suffer persecution, Matthew 5:44 tells us to pray for those who cause harm to us and Mark 10:29-30 tells us of the future promises of things to come.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.”

Yet there is more.  1 Peter 5:8 warns us about the enemy, whereas Psalms 23:4 assures and comforts us throughout this battle.

                        Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

I do notice that a lot of people are pinning their hopes on one another or on our President, but that does not cut it.  Mankind cannot save us.  We all are weak and fall short of His glory. Our hope only lies at His feet and with Him.  We serve the one in control and we surrender all that we are and endure whatever comes out of that surrender or choice.  Bow before Jesus alone and walk as a soldier off to war knowing that His presence is there and is felt.  You are an ambassador for the Lord.  It is our privilege and honor to serve Him and to follow His example.  Carry on, hold on to your faith, and let Him lead you.  You will not go astray wherever He tells you to go.  Be obedient and faithful and one day when you meet, you will hear “thank you my good and faithful servant.”

Our objective is to serve our Lord.  We cling to the above verses to strengthen us and guide us as we go into this deep valley.  Our strategy is to continue to pray for wisdom and the right words to soothe the tension that looms over us.  Ask God to use us as the needed conduit to bring others into the light and stave off the risk of many lives ending way too soon.  Only He can bring us through this and only we can decide if we are more than a mere profession of words claiming to be someone or something that we may not be.  Our action speaks the louder volume and as painful as it is to experience, let alone imagine, we must walk down this path.  We have others to lift and encourage, we have others who do not have a voice and need someone to defend them.  Do not fear this war, but rather fight it with all that you have.  You are a soldier with a cause for Christ.  Let the fiery arrows flung at you fly by or hit you.  His strength is all you need.  Endure and run the race and in the end your reward will be an eternity with Jesus.  The fight, the persecution is all worth it to spend an eternity with God.  March on with hope in your heart and your head held high.  He already has the victory!  God bless.

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