Yesterday my pastor stood in the pulpit and said, “I may have to go to jail one day.”
“And we may have to do church much differently than we’ve ever done it before, he said. "The time may come in our country when we have to choose between obeying man and obeying God. One thing I can say for certain—we will never, ever compromise the Word of God.”
I love that man.
And the timelessness of God’s Word comforts me, speaks truth to my troubled heart, and reminds me that this season has not caught God by surprise. He inspired Peter, millennia ago, to write these words with us in mind:
Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
Christ was born into a government that killed the innocent to preserve a kingdom.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
The disciples were beaten, jailed, and run out of town.
“Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine!”
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-- who is forever praised. Amen.
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done (Romans 1:24-28).
“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. . . . But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts. 1:1, 3-4).
“When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed.
So there was great joy in that city.”
So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:12-19).
We can take comfort from the past, knowing that Christ will continue to build his church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
What truth from Scripture comforts you when the events of this world make you afraid? Why not share them in the comments so others can be encouraged? If you're reading by email subscription, click here to visit Hungry for God and comment.