I Peter 3:14 “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;”
There are many ways to say “fear not”: “Be ye not afraid,” “don’t be troubled,” “stop your worrying,” “take a chill pill,” “dude, relax,” and so it goes.. Somehow the idea of suffering and terror is not something the normal, rational, and healthy human being would be “cool” accepting………. Just sayin’.
Peter would be crucified upside down (according to tradition) for his faith and witness of Jesus the Christ. It is said that Peter requested this form of crucifixion. Simon Peter the disciple who denied he even knew Jesus. So, how does this transformation occur?
Forgiveness. Faith. Foundation. Fellowship. Family.
Peter is writing to the early church. A church under severe persecution. A bride being thrown to the lions, a bride being stoned, a bride imprisoned, a bride facing famine, exile, and anything else Rome can come up with to squelch the spread of following a god that is not Rome and its emperor. Peter is reminding these early believers of the cost of discipleship……….taking up a cross and following Christ, even to death knowing their reward will be great. For as Paul said, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
Let’s bring this forward two thousand years and the nightly news. God fearing people are being harassed, maligned, imprisoned, killed, and beheaded. The “if” is more and more becoming “when” and not “if”. Americans once believed we were safe from such persecution. Now, some of our fellow countrymen are among those throwing the stones of words, undermining the Biblical principles our nation was founded on, and some are even leaving our beloved America and joining forces with those intent on destroying not only America but all that would defend her historical roots.
Many years ago, I had a vivid dream. I do not dream often and remember them less, but, this dream I cannot forget. We were attending a small fellowship at the time and in this dream the setting was a Sunday morning during worship. Armed gunmen entered and demanded all those who believed in Jesus as the only way to salvation to stand and face them. The officer and gentleman immediately stood to his feet. I was in the back with two small children, our children, sitting next to me watching as their Dad was approached guns aimed at him like a firing squad. I sat frozen debating my next move. Protect my children or stand and join the courageous soul standing. The alarm clock went off jolting me back to my comfortable reality. I could hardly breathe all day as I wondered what I would have done. A mother’s heart torn knowing if I stood and joined my husband who stood for Christ that my two children would also stand and join us and they too would possibly die. If I remained seated to protect my children I was in effect saying I did not believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the remission of sin and was just an actor on Sunday mornings; being politically correct, being a “good” parent, going through the motions of playing church. Guilty of the blood of Christ. Sobering battle for truth.
I have often wondered if God used this dream to make me evaluate my own faith and commitment because this dream left the unanswered question: Are you willing to die for the cause of Christ and leave all the unknowns in His hands?
Could I be “happy” if I found myself in this situation? If my son or daughters or granddaughters have a knife at their throats? Could you? Important questions, demanding answers.
In an article in Charisma News dated 6/15/2015 we find this short excerpt:
Imagine ISIS kidnapped a relative of yours and then you see their brutal beheading on television. Many different emotions can take over, including anger, grief, and depression.
CBN News found a group of Egyptian Christians, however, who responded much differently. They are happy (emphasis mine) their family members stood firm in their faith.
Widow Mariam Farhat told us she “was very proud” that her husband “stood firm in his faith and that he didn’t deny Jesus.”
(Read the entire article)
Persecution is not new. The prophets before Christ faced it. John the Baptist faced beheading. Christ faced crucifixion. The disciples and apostles faced horrible deaths. Christians faced persecution in the beginning and will be facing it til the very end.
May God give us the courage to stand up for Christ. May we spread His love among our enemies. May we be found faithful of the high calling. WHEN called upon to suffer and face terror may we do so with a “happy” heart without fear or worry. May we be inspired by the courage of those who have gone before us and their sacrifice will not be in vain. The days ahead may be perilous. Hear our Savior whisper, “Fear not, child:
‘Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you’.” (Matthew 5:12)
Just as the officer and gentleman stood and was counted, at this time in history, may we give thanks for the godly men of our nation, our state, our county, and our city who take a stand for the cause of Jesus Christ. Give thanks for the godly man or men in your life who have boldly proclaimed Jesus as LORD. Give thanks for those boys and young men who will grow to follow this example.