When Christ ascended into heaven, those who were following Him began to understand that they were different. They had seen and experienced just a taste of the true life and could no longer go back to where they were because of it. The world and mankind’s fleshly nature, being incompatible with this life, immediately reacted violently to the declared and achieved victory of Jesus Christ. The promises of the bible are eternity and a communion with our Heavenly Father as a body of Christ. Yet, on this side of eternity, we are similarly promised the be persecuted because of our faith. The world will hate us. It will mock us. It will target us specifically because we put our faith in Jesus Christ and the world hates this.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
– John 15:18-25, NIV
Jesus Christ is an allergy to the earthly desire. When two incompatible things compete with one another, only one can remain. The other will be destroyed or leave. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are not immune from the same persecution he faced. While the world makes us a Pariah for following Christ, we Yet, we can take heart and hold to the confidence rooted in our allegiance with the God who is victorious.
The Martyrdom of the Pariah
The idea of a martyr is not anything new to Christian history. The earliest reference was Stephen in the book of Acts who, when dragged before the Sanhedrin, boldly proclaimed the Gospel as told through the meta narrative of all scripture and was killed for doing so. Even in Christ is the idea that the world wants those who follow God to be killed. We see this today as well. At some point, every Christian will be ostracized for their faith and some will be called to give up their life for it.The love of God transcends the worst that the world can offer. Click To Tweet
The world may hate you, beat you, and make you a pariah, but the love of God transcends the worst that the world can offer. When the world is at its worst, God is not shaken. When those who seek the destruction of those who follow the faith, God has already set up our home in heaven. The world although it may take your life, cannot do anything to jeopardize your eternity. We may be a pariah and a martyr, but we are never defeated.
More Than Life
The question every Christian must ask is whether they are willing to follow God more than life. When we follow Christ more than we seek to grasp to our own life, we arrive at invincibility. Jesus has conquered death and we stand with Jesus. Even if the world seeks to end our life, we know that our lives are secured by the death Christ already endured for our behalf. Jesus took the eternal punishment on himself so we wouldn’t have to. Those who follow Christ has chosen what is greater than even life itself.Whatever the cost of following Jesus Christ may be, it is worth the endless love of a Savior. Click To Tweet
Even in today’s society, we are confronted with the idea of those who are being marched to their death solely because they chose to follow Jesus Christ. ISIS has targeted Christians. Faith based organizations are being labeled hate groups because they are obeying scripture. This world has nothing to offer us. Christ has everything we need. Whatever the cost of following Jesus Christ may be, even if it is our very lives, it is worth the endless love of a Savior. The world may do its worst, but Christ has done His best and ushered us into eternity.
Talk It Out
- Why does the world experience persecution for following Jesus Christ?
- Persecution can take many shapes and forms. Where have you seen persecution of any kind for people who hold the faith? In the news? In your daily life?
- What do we fear losing when we choose to abandon the world and follow Christ? What do we What has Jesus Christ done for you?
- The idea of being a martyr is, understandably, terrifying. Why do we fear death for our faith?
- When has it been the most difficult to live out your faith for fear of persecution? Why can we stand firm in our faith in the face of persecution.
Disclaimer: If you haven’t done so, go back and read the Series on Hope. Grab a few friends, go get coffee, and work through the questions together, and when you are ready, return to this series.
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