"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good." - 1 Peter 4:12-13, 19
We are so accustomed to freedom in this country that we think it’s normal. It shocks and dismays us to see our freedom of religion being eroded; people being fined, fired from their jobs, or put in jail for standing faithfully on God’s Word seems strange. Many refuse to believe it’s happening.
We forget that persecution and anti-Christian sentiment is actually normal in this world, and the freedom we have enjoyed for over two hundred years is the blessed exception. A brief study of World History, or a glance at modern Geography and Social Studies should convince us of the fact that through most of History and for most of the world today, there is no freedom of religion for Christians. In fact, the Bible says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Will persecution come to us here? Yes. According to God’s Word, it will. How much longer this special dispensation of God’s blessing and protection will continue to hold here, we don’t know. But it is just a matter of time. What should we do as we see the situation deteriorate? The answer is given in these verses and repeated in many others: “entrust our souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” It’s really pretty simple. (Not easy, but simple.). We need to practice living this simple instruction now, so that when the day comes that we face real persecution, the habit will be in place. Lord, You have graciously warned us ahead of time of what’s coming. Thank You for mercifully keeping us until now from the suffering that so many of our brothers and sisters around the world face every day. Help us to appreciate our freedom, to remember and help those who are persecuted now, and to live ready to glorify You in whatever way You call us to serve tomorrow, in Jesus’ name. Amen. Pastor Dan Giles