What if following Christ meant suffering persecution? What would you do if simply being a disciple of Jesus cost you your job, reputation, or even your life?
Dr. Eric Walsh recently found out that simply believing and preaching the Bible can have serious consequences. Dr. Walsh was fired from his position with the Georgia Department of Public Health over the content of the sermons he preached as a lay-pastor. It seems that officials from the GDPH scourged Dr. Walsh’s sermons for any references to marriage, sexuality, world religions, evolution and more. Particularly troubling to the state of Georgia was Dr. Walsh’s belief that marriage is intended by God to be one man and one woman for a lifetime. Gay and Lesbian groups decried his “discriminatory” actions and “homophobic” beliefs. Although he has filed suit against the state of Georgia for religious discrimination, he is without a job simply because he believed and preached biblical values.
Christian Watchdog origination “Open Doors” reports that 7100 people lost their lives for following Christ last year. This gave 2015 the dubious distinction of being the most violent year in modern history for Christian Persecution.
What is Christian Persecution? Open Doors defines it as any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. Verbal harassment, hostile feelings and attitudes, discrimination and even death are examples. Although this seems far removed from the experiences of many American Christians, Jesus has promised us that we will face tribulation and persecution. John 16:33 – “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world. In 2 Timothy 4:12 Paul reminds Timothy that “. . . everyone who wants to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Again in I Peter 4:12 we are commanded to “ . . . not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
Scripture is clear. Everyone who lives a Godly life in this dark world will suffer some form of persecution. It may be the derision and mockery of people we work around when we refuse to listen to or tell filthy jokes or pass along gossip. It might come to our teenage children when their friends laugh at them because they will not have sex before marriage or smoke weed. Persecution might come when we refuse to fudge on a report or lie for a plant supervisor who wants to look good in his superior’s eyes. It might even come from so-called “Christians” who pressure us to soften the moral stances that are so clearly given in Scripture.
In Revelation 2:8-11 Jesus addresses a church that is facing devastating persecution. He tells them first of all “I know your tribulation.” He is aware of our suffering. Even when we feel forgotten and abandoned, He knows and He cares. Secondly, he tells them “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Jesus rewards those who stand firm in the faith.
Following Jesus always has been and always will be costly. Be Faithful.