It’s hard to live for Jesus. It’s only going to get harder.
The Perfect Storm
I’m not prophetic, but I’m speaking based on what I’m observing all around me. Our American society is becoming increasingly less friendly toward Christ and His followers. Legislation at various levels attempts to push Christ to the margins of society. Not only are lawmakers putting the squeeze on Christ, so is our culture at large. Individuals and corporations who embrace open-mindedness and tolerance are only so as long as Jesus Christ stays home. Every other system of belief is welcome, just not Jesus. Why do you think Tim Tebow has been such a polarizing sports figure in the last year? The sports nation wants to embrace this kid who throws awkwardly but wins, yet is uncomfortable in celebrating him because he is so outspoken about his faith in Christ.
Another segment of our society that is increasingly becoming more hostile toward Christianity is our education system. At every turn, schools and decision-makers who determine curriculum are drawing boundary lines that punish students for standing up for what they believe.
What a perfect storm – combine our society, our schools, and an enemy who wishes to prevent people from knowing Jesus Christ and living a life that glorifies Him, and you have a Christ-unfriendly environment.
Passing the Test in School
Just last weekend I took a busload of junior high kids to a conference about the origins and trustworthiness of the Bible. We had a chance to talk about the things that prevented them from walking closely with Jesus. Wow! I so value their candidness and transparency, as they shared quite a variety of roadblocks that stood in their way.
They mentioned how difficult it is to resist compromising their values because of the mockery of their peers. The guilt that goes along with compromise also was a roadblock. Other kids mentioned the high levels of stress at home that made following Jesus hard.
One of the high school seniors in our youth group transferred from a Christian school to a public school after eleven years. He shared with me the struggles he’s faced after transferring his sophomore year:
Two years ago I transferred to Oswego High School. It is different in so many ways. Walking through the halls, it is a totally different feel. I walked into the building for the first time knowing that because of my faith I was a minority and that all of the people who got to know me would watch to see if I was different. I have gotten to know a few other Christians but it is much harder to know who shares your faith at the public schools. Although the teachers still care about the success of their students, even if they do care about their salvation, they are not permitted to say anything about it. At the public school I have noticed much more poor behavior than I did at the Christian school. Because of the lack of rules prohibiting some things, there is far more swearing and immodest clothing which makes it hard to avoid temptation at times.
And it’s only going to get harder. To be honest, I’m glad. For one, it means that what Jesus predicted is coming true. In Mark 10:30, He explains how He will take care of His people in this age with “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands.” But Jesus also includes in that list of what will be coming our way the certainty of “persecutions.” This age, while we will have all of our needs provided for, we will still walk around with a target on our backs. As we grow in maturity in Christ, and as our circles of Christian influence expand, so does the bulls’ eye. Satan will do all he can to disarm us, to dissuade us, to discourage us, to depress us, to debilitate us, to distract us, to deal us the death blow.
Not the End of the Story
If that were the end of the story, I’d have reason to give up right now. However, praise the Lord, the rest of Mark 10:30 reminds us of what’s on the other side: “…and in the age to come, eternal life.”
While this age will have the mix of God’s blessings and the enemy’s attacks, the age to come will be nothing but the blessings that come from being in the presence of God Almighty! Our state of perfect communion with the Father will be restored. The promise of Revelation 21: 3 – 4 will be fulfilled, and it’s gonna be AMAZING!!!!
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Another reason why I welcome the coming persecution is that it will help the American church to fully commit to following Christ (or not). The individuals who make up the church will gravitate toward being “hot” or “cold,” and the lukewarmth that the Lord detests will dissipate. It will be uncomfortable. It will be painful. It will be heartbreaking. It will be hard.
But God is faithful!
Share with me – what are the things in your life that make it difficult to live your life for Jesus Christ? How have you been able to overcome them?