Here’s a statement from the Bible that has a tremendous shock factor, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12) All in favor of living a godly life in Jesus raise your right hand. I see several hands up. Now, everyone in favor of being persecuted for their faith raise your hands. I don’t see any hands up.
Can I be honest with you? Persecution is coming. You can count on it. It has already started. We are a post Christian nation and Christians are the least tolerated group in America, and it is going to get worse. We live in a dark world. Thirty five hundred unwanted babies are killed daily in America, mostly out of convenience or economy. Is there any surprise that we hear of murder, often mass murders every day? When the disregard for human life begins in the womb it then spreads to all of society. Then there’s the breakdown of marriage and the home with divorce for pretty much any reason or no reason at all. Add to that greed, lying, cheating, rampant sex/promiscuity. Do you understand that one of the strongest deciding issues of the recent election was sex, sexual freedom? “I don’t want anyone to tell me I can’t do whatever I want sexually. Don’t try to take away my sexual freedoms, and on top of that, I want the government to pay for it.” We live in a dark, dark world that is going to get darker and darker at an accelerated rate. And as the world gets darker the opposition to Christ followers will become more intentional and frequent.
What are we to do? Here’s the bright spot. Where there is darkness the light shines even brighter. The darker the darkness the brighter the light shines. God said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”. 2 Cor 4:6-12
The writer went on to say some things you may very well identify with, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” And it is going to get worse. However, he says, “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus.” In other words, we know personally that he died for us and we have accepted his sacrifice for your sins. For what purpose, “so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” So that his light might shine brighter and brighter through us as the world around us gets the darker and darker.
That is a tall, tall challenge and the only way it will happen in today’s culture and environment is when the world sees us living out how we love each other. They aren’t convinced by words about love. They are captivated by and drawn to the real thing.
We not only live in a very dark world that is getting darker, we live in a very needy world that is getting needier. And I’m not just talking about financially needy, but emotionally, relationally and spiritually as well. And when they see and hear about a church full of people who are unselfishly giving of themselves and their possessions to meet needs it gets their attention. They want to know more. They want to know why. And eventually they want to be part of what God is doing in other people’s lives because they want God to do the same kind of things in their life.
So, we have a powerful setting and opportunity today for the truth, the gospel, to take root in our community, or any community where the church community functions the way God intends for it to. I can’t say it any other way. This is how we are going to pierce the darkness. This is how our light will shine brighter and brighter in a darker and darker world. We are not only looking at a world that is turning farther and farther away from God but the good news is, we are also looking at greater and greater opportunities to impact our world as authentic followers of Jesus.