The following is an excerpt from Sunday’s message. For some reason, many have commented on it, so I’m putting a portion out here.
Prepare yourself for persecution.
John 16:1-4 – 1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.
Why would Jesus give us such a dark message of the persecution that we will face? Why would he tell us of the violence that the world will want to do to us? He does so because he does not want us to fall away when it comes.
If you think that following Jesus will lead you to easy living without problems or pain in life, you may find it very difficult to know what to do when faced with a world that is murderously hostile to Jesus and his followers. If you think that Christianity will make you more beloved by your friends and family and will earn you the respect of the immoral, you will be shocked when you hear atheists who say they want to outlaw Christianity, ban parents from raising their children according to their religious faith, and simply will not grant Christians “the oxygen of respectability.”
Jesus wants us to be prepared for the hatred and persecution of the world, so he gives us a major warning. The world will kick us out of its organizations. People will violently oppose Christians, and they will think they are doing the world a service when they do so. And Jesus says in verse 3 that the reason they will do all these things is because they do not know him and thus do not know God.
Why warn us like this, Jesus? “But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.” There you go. He warns us so that we will get ready for them. He told his disciples he was telling them this now because he was about to leave them, and when he leaves them, the persecution will be aimed right at them.
Christians, are you ready for persecution? Are you willing to suffer hardship, scorn, ridicule, pain, or even death for the sake of the gospel of the Lord Jesus? Are you willing to let the town think you a fool for the sake of Jesus? Are you willing to be shut out of social circles, betrayed by friends, and made fun of behind your back in order to follow Jesus? Are you willing to go to prison, to torture, or even to the grave because of your belief in Christ? Jesus wants you to be ready for such things, and that is why he gave us the warnings he did.
Now, American Christian, ask yourself, “Why is this stuff not happening to me?” Few of us suffer any real persecution for the sake of the gospel. To be sure, some do, but not as many as should. Why do people not want to burn down our building with us in it? Why do people not want to slash our tires, throw bricks through our windows, and have us locked away? Could it be that the reason they do not hate us right now is that they do not see us as that drastically different than they are? Could it be that they do not see Jesus in us, and so they do not hate the Jesus in us that they cannot see? Could it be that we are not giving our all to share the gospel with them in the power of the Holy Spirit to leave them without excuse before God? Ask yourself these questions, and see what God leads you to think.