“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.”
In addition to this caution, though, we are given encouragement:
“So have no fear of them (emphasis added), for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul (emphasis added). Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Christians in America have been so comfortable for so long we’ve forgotten it is not the state of things we should expect in a world under the sway of our Enemy. While giving thanks to the Father for the blessings we have been allowed during the time our civilization was largely aligned with the Faith, we should also realize that this time was an exception, and appears to be coming to a close. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world have never enjoyed the freedoms and latitude we’ve known — and their faith is stronger because of it. We need not fear the rise of hostility to Biblical Christianity at home. Rome, the French Revolution, Naziism, communism in Russia and China — none of these succeeded in stamping out the message of the Gospel. With the exception of China (which is itself not immune to the Spirit’s movement) those regimes are in the dustbin of history, but God’s Word will never pass away.
Neither today’s acolytes of aggressive atheism nor the latest surge of violent Islam should expect to succeed any better! How frustrating it must be to the Enemy to realize that no matter how many of Christ’s followers he kills or materially ruins, that the Word of God endures forever! We should not only take comfort in that — it should remind us that we are not here on this earth to wring our hands nervously, play defense or make this world our home. We aren’t supposed to be waiting around to be attacked because we might have let it slip that we take the Bible as authoritative Truth. No, with the power of the Spirit we are supposed to attack the gates of hell itself, in order that as many who will receive Him may have eternal life!
To quote C.S. Lewis yet again:
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
The Master died for us, was raised by the Father, and has gone to prepare a better place for us. What are we doing to spread His invitation? What cost are we willing to pay, that others may know Him? Are we, like Him, prepared to be crushed if that will advance the glory of God and the salvation of others? Do we realize that even if He allows that, we can be assured that one day He will say to us, as He did to His Son, “Arise, my love!”
He is Risen!