Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Christian Persecution and the Christ-Centered Life

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Should you suffer for being a Christian? We know throughout history many in the church have been through great persecution. Every day our TVs and computers broadcast jarring images of Christians in the Middle East being slaughtered for their faith.

One early Christian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Seemingly, whenever the church has suffered, growth has been the result.

Does that mean that we should seek to suffer? Does the Bible teach that we should pursue persecution, and chase after abuse? If persecution has identified the true church throughout history, and has almost always resulted in great growth, why would we not desire to suffer?

Right now, most of us in the West don't worry about the kind of persecution our brothers and sisters must suffer. We must pray for them, and when possible seek ways to support them.

But how do we approach persecution in our world?

Perhaps a different approach to this question would be helpful. Perhaps the appropriate question to ask is this: “If I live my life centered on Christ, will that lead to suffering?” I think the answer to this question is more often than not, “yes.”

Read and Contemplate Hebrews 12:1-4.

As we run the race of life, we are to focus our eyes on Jesus, thereby enabling us to run the race just as He did. When we fix our eyes on Him, we see one who endured hostility, shame, and the cross.

Perhaps it is fair to conclude that suffering is an expected aspect of life in Christ. Therefore, if I’m making decisions so I can avoid suffering, am I really living my life centered in Christ? As Hebrews says, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

Because Jesus willingly suffered for us, being Christ-centered must include a willingness to suffer for the sake of His name.

Today: Beware of any opportunities you have to avoid suffering by compromising your faith. (remember, it’s better to suffer the awkwardness which follows than to deny what you know to be right!)

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