“If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 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. They will do all this to you because of Me, for they have rejected the one who sent Me.”
John 15:18-21 NLT
So are you shocked? Surprised that you’re no longer embraced by some friends or family members? No longer welcomed or invited to certain activities? Why? Jesus said to expect it. He was maligned by His own family. Teachers who made it their life’s aim to study the scriptures rejected the very words He taught, that they had learned. The message of the cross, the Bible teaches, is foolishness to those who are perishing. 1 Corinthians 1:18. We’re also told not to be surprised by the fiery attacks coming our way. 1 Peter 4:12
As believers in Jesus Christ we’re to expect these things to happen. It should never be strange or even opposed, it’s proof that we’re on the right path. Jesus taught that whatever was done to Him would make its way to us. So what are we to do when we face rejection for our faith? Retreat and become non essential? Absolutely not! That’s even more reason to stand up and speak up, with the exception of when the Holy Spirit tells us to hold our peace. We follow Jesus’ example and take our message elsewhere. Matthew 10:14
In Acts 5 we read this account of the apostles:
The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!” So at daybreak the apostles entered the Temple, as they were told, and immediately began teaching. When the high priest and his officials arrived, they convened the high council —the full assembly of the elders of Israel. Then they sent for the apostles to be brought from the jail for trial. But when the Temple guards went to the jail, the men were gone. So they returned to the council and reported, “The jail was securely locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there!” When the captain of the Temple guard and the leading priests heard this, they were perplexed, wondering where it would all end. Then someone arrived with startling news: “The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple, teaching the people!” The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them. Then they brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them. “We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered. “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.””
Acts of the Apostles 5:17-42
If you start at the beginning of the chapter you’ll see that they had just come off of the greatest demonstration of the power of Jesus performing countless miracles. You would have thought the religious people would be pleased. People were coming off of welfare, hospitals were being emptied out, lives were being restored, all good things. But instead of being embraced, jealousy was the ensuing result. We’re seeing the same things today, evil is good and good is evil. Jealousy is destroying relationships. If I’m not doing it then you shouldn’t. If I’m not being applauded then you shouldn’t be either. If I can’t have it, neither can you. This attitude has crept into the church as well. Small churches hating on mega churches. You’d think we have two different Jesus.’ Who exactly are we working for? Jesus knows nor supports one denomination over another. He supports those who bear His Name. Bought and paid for with His blood. The Church of Jesus Christ.
These apostles were not seeking to promote a ministry, they were exalting Jesus. Yet it got them beaten and thrown in jail. But it’s what followed that made reading the entire account worth it. Let’s read:
“The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.”
Acts 5:41 NLT
They were not bummed out or complaining, they were rejoicing and kept right on preaching the gospel. They were not surprised. Today we’re surprised that they’re closing our churches, dictating when and how we should worship. We hire lawyers to defend our right to preach. What! These apostles did no such thing. Their defense attorney was Jesus. He sent angelic representation to open the prisons
and let His servants out. We have too many backup plans. This is why we’re not experiencing the supernatural interventions that are available to us. Is the power of God weaker now than before? Is He not capable of doing the same things today? As long as we make flesh our choice of help we’ll never find out what God would and can do.
Suffering for Christ is not new. It’s been going on for centuries. Today those who keep track of what’s going on with the persecution of Christians, tell of the horror being perpetuated against believers in different parts of the world. We here in the west haven’t a clue about persecution. We’re being inconvenienced but not persecuted. But it’s coming. I pray that we won’t be surprised but prepared. Prepared to respond in the manner worthy of the Name of Jesus who we represent. May we not be caught off guard due to complacency and ignorance. If they did it to Jesus they’ll do it to us. Preach, Teach, Proclaim and Declare the good news of the gospel. I’ll close with this scripture.
“But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.”
2 Timothy 3:10-14 NLT
Yes my friends, follow the example of those who have gone before us. Live prepared lives so nothing will take us by surprise as God’s dear children. And know for a certain that there is a cost for following Jesus. But it will be worth it.
Father in Jesus Name
We thank You that your Word prepares us for everything that we will face in our walk with You. We need not be surprised by the work of Satan. Even in suffering we’re made victorious. We rejoice to be counted worthy of the lions den and fiery furnaces of this life. With You on our side we can never fail. Continue to equip us by Your Spirit and Word. In Jesus Name. Amen
To avoid surprises, live prepared. Matthew 25
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit