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Preparing For Persecution XXXIII

 Depending on our focus, we will either have peace or be overwhelmed with fear and trepidation. We can focus on Jesus's warning that we will experience tribulation or His counsel that we ought not to fear. When we take His words to heart, that we ought not to fear, then come what may we will be at peace. If all we dwell on is that there will be tribulation or that we will have to endure persecution and dismiss His direction that we shouldn’t fear these things, that feeling of having a rock in the pit of your stomach will turn into a boulder, and eventually become the thing that our entire existence revolves around.

The profiteers among God’s children use fear as a motivating factor. I’ve watched as we go from one certain, absolute, get in before you’re left out, cataclysmic event to another, and with each one, wouldn’t you know it, they have some product or service that will help you weather the storm, and see you through it safe as a babe in its mother’s womb. It’s almost serendipitous when you think about it. They seem to have a cream for every itch, a remedy for anything that ails you, but when you dig a bit deeper, you realize it’s the same repackaged, rebranded stuff you could make yourself for a tenth of the cost. Granted, you don’t get the spiffy buckets if you make it yourself, but with the money you’ll be saving, you could afford to splurge on a bucket if the need arises.

Never let fear be the driving force in your decision-making process. Never let fear cloud your rational mind and make you do something you’ll regret for years to come. What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander in this case, and what God might tell you to do to prepare might not be what He told me to do in order to prepare. What is general, for everyone, without exception, is the command not to fear!

Fear is not the natural environment for a child of God. Knowing the God we serve and His omnipotence over all things, we have nothing to fear, for He will be an ever-present help in times of trouble and a constant companion throughout this journey called life. A lifetime supply of potatoes-au-gratin from your favorite televangelist will do nothing to help you when facing prison, torture, or death, but an abiding faith that you’ve built up over the years will.

God doesn’t warn you of what will come, so you might fear it. He warns of what is to come so you might prepare. If you spend your days wallowing in fear of what tomorrow will bring, not only have you misunderstood God’s intent, but you’re also doing something Jesus commanded you not to do.

Why do you think Jesus said you should count the cost before you sign on? Was it because your life would be so glamorous, carefree, full of the best the world has to offer, and full of such abundance so as to make Solomon envious?

We cannot look at those who came before us and see what they endured and expect something wholly different for ourselves. When we see that they were persecuted, yet we expect praise; they lacked, but we expect abundance; they suffered, but we expect ease, we will either betray Jesus in pursuit of the things He never promised or grow bitter at not having what we expected to have.

If you spend four years going to dental school and when you graduate, you’re surprised that you don’t get to work on airplane engines, it’s not the school’s fault; it’s yours for expecting something contrary to what you spent four years learning.

If, throughout the history of the church, we’ve been witness to persecution, the vitriol of the godless, and the hatred thereof, what makes us expect any different in our day and age? The level of hubris required for someone to assume that this present generation will be spared the testing of their faith and will not have to endure as all others who came before them have is beyond my ability to fathom.

Hebrews 10:36-38, “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in the desert and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”

But that was then, and this is now, brother. They didn’t have the keys to unlocking prosperity and living lives of abundance. Had they been privy to the teachings of modern-day televangelists, they, too, would have basked in the sun as they sat poolside of their beachfront mansions.

To clarify: Jesus warned that we would be hated and reviled, the Bible warns that the children of God would suffer persecution, Paul looks back on those who endured for the sake of Christ and endured things we could scarcely imagine, but we’re supposed to ignore all that because some snake-oil salesman wearing the equivalent of a small nation’s GDP on his wrist says otherwise.

Whether or not we acknowledge them, believe them, accept them, or receive them, some things just are. I can tell myself I’m in my twenties until I’m blue in the face, but my body is that of a fifty-year-old, my hair is gray, and the laugh lines are showing.

Persecution is coming because the Bible says it is. It may not be what we want to hear, but it’s what we need to hear so that we might prepare for the eventuality thereof. Denying it won’t make it not be so, just as denying that the sun is hot won’t keep someone’s skin from blistering if they sit in it all day.

We cannot dismiss God’s warnings and expect to be victorious during the coming storm. We cannot fail to prepare for the eventuality of having to endure to the end and then blame God for not having the necessary tools to do so. We have the blueprint and the roadmap of what to expect and what we need to do to meet it head-on. We have God’s promises and assurances, as well as the steps we need to take to become bold as lions and valiantly defend the truth of Christ as those who came before us did. The only question that remains unanswered is whether we will choose to do so. Will we follow through? Will we be faithful? And if so, will we be faithful to the end?

Ephesians 6:10-13, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Posted on 14 May 2024 | 10:19 am

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