Truth in Advertising
January 13, 2021
Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12 NLT
“Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.” John 15:20 NLT
Every now and then I talk to someone who is disillusioned with their Christian experience. They feel like they have experienced unjust hard times and disappointments. They say something like this: “I thought my life after Jesus would be easier. But I feel like it’s harder, actually. This doesn’t feel like what I signed up for.” It always makes me wonder who was the salesman that offered them this deal. It certainly wasn’t Jesus. Jesus was a straight-shooter who told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If you read the things He said, recorded in many places by different people who heard Him, you might think He was trying to discourage people from following. He was not, but He was truthful, and He wanted people to know the invitation to follow Him carried a big cost. Not everyone would be willing to pay it. He never said following would be easy, but He said it would be more than worth it. Everyone who has truly followed Him can attest to the fact that the joy and reward has far outweighed any difficulty or cost.
John was a close follower of Jesus who recorded Jesus saying, “Since they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” John was a true follower. He took on the assignment of caring for Jesus’ mother at the cross and fulfilled it the rest of her life after Jesus went to heaven. He saw Jewish believers thrown out of the synagogues because they believed Jesus was the fulfillment of God's ancient promises to their forefathers. They were being cut off from their families, their history, and their religion, and suffered economically and physically. John wrote to assure these persecuted believers that Jesus really is the Christ, the Son of God. He wanted to make sure that even in their harsh circumstances they would remain faithful to Jesus and enjoy abundant life in Him. He himself was banished to the isle of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation. Yet he was known as the apostle of joy.
Like John, Paul knew that Jesus’ words were true from his own personal experience. He told Timothy that if you are godly, being persecuted is just part of it. He had quite a resume of persecution in all forms, but he wrote even from a prison cell that he “counted it all joy,” and God was meeting all of his needs. Persecution? Yes. Difficulties? Yes. But Jesus was always with him, and it was always more than worth it.
Realize that everything always going well is not a reliable sign that you have God’s favor. God’s presence in the hard times is the most significant witness. Encourage yourself and another Jesus-follower with that word.