Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.2 Timothy 3:12 (NLT)
I have had the privilege to attend the Oregon Conference Bible Camp for the past seven years. This is an annual retreat where around 600 or so teenagers come to fellowship, have fun, and worship God. It is always a blessing to those that attend.
A couple of years ago, my friend Edwin was asked to speak for one of the morning worships. He was only given about 10 minutes to speak on the topic of discipleship (people who follow Jesus). His talk was insanely intense, and convicted everyone in the room of our need to live our faith out loud. The gist of his talk was this: There should be no doubt from anyone about your faith in Jesus. Then, he dropped the biggest bomb of the conference, and he used our verse today to demonstrate it. He said this, “If the Scriptures are true, then anyone who is a Christian will suffer persecution. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves: ‘If we don’t experience persecution, are we really a Christian?’” The room was silent. The point was huge. It was a gut-check moment for everyone.
This is one of the topics we often misunderstand in the Christian church. We know that the Scriptures tell us that persecution will happen on a large-scale right before Jesus returns. But, the Bible also clearly tells us that it will happen on a regular basis as we live out our Christianity, regardless of what year is displayed on the calendar.
When we live our faith as Jesus commands, we feed the hungry, clothe the poor, proclaim the gospel, teach about Jesus, invite people to join our church family, we live sacrificially, all on behalf of the Kingdom of God. Though this all sounds OK, by societal standards, it’s not. Why? Because within the context of all of our good activities, we are to share our faith in Jesus. In this world, the gospel can be offensive. As a result, persecution will follow, both from humans, and from the spiritual realm.
So, here are some gut-check questions for you: Are you living your faith out loud? Do those outside of your faith community know your faith? If the answer is yes, then persecution will happen. If the answer is no, then you are not following what Jesus has called you to do.