Are You Ready?

You by Rocky Fleming

 

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!”  (Luke 6:22 ESV)

 

As many of you did, I began the year 2020 with an amazing thought that I had actually lived to see the day.  It was like 2020… is so way out there in time.  Back in 1968 a popular futuristic movie was “2001: A Space Odyssey” and it was believable for it was “way out there” in time.  Then in 1984 they produced “2010 Space Odyssey,” and it was also believable for it was “way out there.”  Both movies portrayed a future of advanced space travel and amazing, talking computers.  A lot of things have been fulfilled as projected, but many are still missing.  For this reason, I tended to look at such futuristic changes with interest, but not with the thought that I would live to see it for it was so, “way out there.”

 

About the same time in 1970, Hal Lindsey published his book, “The Late, Great Planet Earth.”  It too was a futuristic book that exposed many of us to prophesy about end times.  There were some things that we could not see changing, as far as the world landscape was concerned.  Computer technology was in its infancy.  The United States was the greatest of the super-powers.  Our flag and constitution were honored.  Citizenship in this country was a privilege and was protected.  Our laws were enforced.  By in large our country was safe to live in.  The best way to describe it is “stable.”  Therefore, you will understand why I would say that the thought of Christians being shamed and persecuted in America because we pray, we sing, we gather, was outlandish.  However, if you will read the news, it is no longer “way out there.”  It is now on us.  Just ask the churches in California as their governor has banned it.  Newsom might need a lesson on what true worship by followers of Jesus Christ is.  We bow to only one King, and that is the King of Kings.  Though you may try to prevent our worship, our very breath will express His glory.  But that will be the reason that persecution will begin.  It will begin for those of us who follow Jesus, just as the scripture above says, and it is no longer an outlandish futuristic event.

 

I find it interesting that angry mobs can gather and express themselves a lot louder than a church of people who sing, and their First Amendment right is protected by local anti-government leaders, while a worshipper’s right is banned?  Is there any way to see this other than it being a persecution of people of faith?  At the beginning of the year would any of you had even imagined you would see what is going on today?  I couldn’t.  I believed it would happen “way out there” in the future, for there’s a whole lot of prophetic scripture that point it out.  But I didn’t know it would happen so fast.  What can we make of it?  We have to go back to what Jesus said about it.  He said it would happen.

 

Now here is the big question, for we can no longer defer it to a later date.  As a Christian, how will you face persecution when it comes knocking on your door?  Are you ready for it?  If you think guns and violence is the answer, you would be mistaken.  If you think fleeing to a safe place is the answer, you would be mistaken.  If you think politics is the answer, you would be mistaken.  If you think your constitutional rights is the answer, you would be mistaken.  There is only one answer, and this is what Jesus said:

 

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”   Jesus

 

This passage in John 16:33 was a direct quote from Jesus to His followers about the persecution they would face.  He also told them just a few hours before in John 15 how critical it would be that they remain in Him and not run away.  Their strength and ability to stand, and even live a fruitful life, depended on their deep connection with Him in the abiding relationship with Him as they face persecution.  It was relevant to them for they were facing it.  It was not “way out there,” but in their face.  In the same way it is now in our face, and the answer for what we do when persecuted is still the same.  We press closer to Him than ever before and let Him overcome that which we cannot.

 

It’s not guns and violence that will win against persecution.  It’s love and a trust that will overcome it.  Now let’s do what we have been raised up to do:

 

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:31-39 NIV)

 

Abide … Abide … Abide