As Christians or followers of Jesus, how can we tell if we are truly progressing in our walk with God? How can we tell if God is really changing our hearts for the better?
My Pastor put it perfectly yesterday during his sermon. What is the diagnosis for a heart changed by God? Persecution. Are you being persecuted for your faith? This really got me to thinking. The truth of the matter is, most of us would have to say No, of course not. That doesn't happen here in America. Well maybe not the type of persecution we hear about in other countries (Not yet, anyway), but do we suffer at all for our faith? Do people make fun of us, reject us, talk about us behind our back because we follow Jesus? Have we lost friends over our faith, family members? Have co-workers shunned us, or perhaps we didn't get the promotion we deserved because our boss secretly hates Christians. Have we been targeted by the IRS? Hated by pro-choice and gay-marriage groups? I'll admit that these sorts of persecutions are pretty mild compared to what's happening in much of the world where people are thrown in prison, raped, tortured, and executed for their faith. But still. How much of even these benign forms of persecution do we endure?
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.2 Timothy 3:12
Hmm. Well it doesn't say all who believe in Christ Jesus, does it? No, it says all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus. So, maybe my pastor was right. Maybe persecution is a true indication of how much we live out our faith day by day, of how much we've allowed God to change our hearts.
Jesus himself said:
you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are
not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world
hates you. Remember
the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his
master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. John 15:19-20
We live such comfortable lives here in America, but have we become too complacent? Have we become too comfortable? Have we made Christianity into a spectator sport? Into something that revolves around our needs and our wants and not around God?
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." Revelation 3:15-16
That's Jesus talking. Not the sweet lamb Jesus but the Lion-of-the-tribe-of-Judah Jesus. He came to us first as a lamb, but the next time the world sees Him, He will be a lion. And I don't think He's kidding for one second about this vomiting business.
Are you being persecuted? Is there enough of Jesus shining through your life, enough of His glory and love evident in all that you do, that others are seeing it? Or do you keep your faith for Sunday morning and a few devotionals during the week?
I had to really think about this in my own life and it really convicted me. I hope it gets you to thinking too.
And by the way, Happy Memorial Day!!