First, I want to establish that this warning of opposition is grounded in Scripture. The Christian walk is one of persecution, not wealth and prosperity. Christians must know this. Here are some examples:
- “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.” - 1 Peter 4:12
- “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, “ 2 Timothy 3:12
- “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. “ - John 15:18-19
- “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. “ - 1 John 3:13
- “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” - Luke 6:22
Second, we must understand that opposition comes in various forms. Many times people wrongly see persecution as only martyrdom, imprisonment, and beatings. Persecution rises to the level of its success. This means that if your boss tells you to stop sharing the gospel with coworkers and you stop, then the persecution comes merely as a polite request. If you do not stop, then the persecution may rise to the level of a written warning and a threat of firing. If you don’t stop the persecution may rise to the level of being fired. (Normally the last two never come about, yet we think they will). The question is will you pass the test? Will you submit to your boss, or will you obey your King?
Third, we need to a bigger picture of reality. Too often we view circumstances through a very small window. Whether you recognize it or not, you live in the midst of a war. Light versus Darkness. Good versus Evil. Life versus Death. God versus Satan. All people live in one dominion or the other. This World lies in the hands of Satan. When you turn and place your faith in Jesus you are turning from Satan’s rule and submitting to Christ’s rule. You are now a solider for Jesus, and an enemy of the Enemy. Not only that, but you are living in Enemy territory. The reason Christians are persecuted is because we are foreigners in the fallen and evil World. We are beacons of light shining the light of Christ into the domain of darkness. The darkness does not appreciate the light, and attempts to put it out. This attempt comes through persecution at all levels.
Fourth, it is crucial for us to realize that victory is already ours. Yes, we will face persecution, and yes, this is not our home, and yes the world lies in the hands of Satan…BUT, Satan was (past tense) defeated at Calvary. I loved a simple example that Pastor Jason Meyers used at our conference. When he was in high school his one dunk during a basketball game came after he stole the ball and ran down the court slammed it home. His crowd went crazy. They, however, were soon silenced when the opposing crowd chanted three words…”Check the score! Check the score! Check the score!” Pastor Meyer’s team was down substantially and time was running out. There was no possible way his team was going to come close to winning. At times, Satan is likewise able to steal the ball and run down the court and do a monster slam over us, and in this moment we feel defeated, but all we have to do is to look up and check the score. Christ has already won the victory on our behalf, and no matter what he does, this does not change.
Fifth, we must remember this is all part of the Sovereign God of the Universe’s plan. He has chosen to display His glory through vessels such as us. Our response to the persecution is His design to display His strength in the midst of our weakness. Persecution should not be something we avoid; it should be something we embrace. For it is an opportunity to point to Jesus and trust in Him. The light of Christ in us shines most brightly when the backdrop of our circumstances is pitch black.