When believers think of persecution, we tend to think of those outside the church who seek to prevent us from being and doing what God leads us to be and do. There’s more, though. Persecution can be within God’s church as well. Much pressure can be exerted to attempt you to conform to and agree with doctrines of men and the altering of God’s word and its meaning and truth.
We are active on a spiritual question and answer site where there are both kinds of persecution: from those that don’t believe and from those that do. What they have in common is that all think they are right and attempt to make us conform to their perspective. They do so with snide, condescending attitudes and throw words out like “retard”, “ignorant” and the like. Those that call themselves believers seem to think they have all the spiritual answers or that their denomination does. One denomination calls itself the true and only church, while others exhibit alternate forms of spiritual pride. That’s why we determined to be there to be an example of what it means to follow Jesus and live His way without condemning, attacking or accusing anyone. That doesn’t mean we are doormats, since we do share how God wants us to love and live and contrast that with the message of those who persecute.
Scripture: John 15:20, 2Timothy 3:1-5
20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
3 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Father God, thanks for making us aware that there are many types of persecution outside of and within Your church. Help us to move forward being and doing what You have for us to be and do regardless of the counterfeit standards of society and the church. Help us to grieve that 2Timothy 3 lists negative attributes that are within the church and that it’s many times not possible to distinguish between those that call themselves Yours and those that aren’t. Help us to appropriately deal with worldly smugness and spiritual smugness and remain faithful to You and Your way. Help us to follow Jesus, who is our example, and be totally Yours regardless of the persecution Jesus warned His followers would surely occur. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Things to Think, Pray and Journal About
1. Have you asked God to grant you discernment so you can see persecution for what it truly is and not how others present their standards?
2. Have you encountered spiritual persecution from believers? What happened?
3. Has a believer or unbeliever tried to use negative or deceptive words to influence you to change your walk with God? How did you respond? Did you change?
4. Have you asked God for spiritual boldness and all that you need to deal with the persecution you are experiencing or will experience in the future?
copyright 2014, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved