Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. – 2 Timothy 3:12
This morning I read a story about Atlanta Fire Chief Kevin Cochran, who was fired because of the biblically aligned content of a teaching materials he had written for his church. This came on the heels of another story of a substitute teacher (a Gideon, by the way) who was fired for giving a Bible to a student who asked about a passage in the Gospel of Matthew.
I sent the Atlanta story link to my husband, who responded, “The final days are dawning.” I responded, “I think we slept through the dawn.”
Though the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission upheld teacher Walter Tutka’s rights, we are seeing echoes of such discrimination throughout the West. In our area, neighborhood Bible studies have been targeted because of congestion caused by parked cars, while similar faith gatherings remain untouched.
Those of us who are not under self-imposed gag orders about our faith are bound to suffer for it. The day has dawned when our livelihoods will be threatened because of a stance we take in our private lives. The day has dawned when we are no longer free to gather with fellow believers in our own homes. The day has dawned when we are considered as radical as those who routinely slaughter their critics. The days are evil, my friends.
But we cannot be silent, no matter the cost. Consider the example of the apostles Peter and John, whose leaders ordered them to stop teaching in the name of Jesus.
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:18-20
Peter and John boldly proclaimed Jesus at great personal cost. Peter is believed to have died by being crucified upside-down (not seeing himself as worthy to die in the exact manner of his Lord); John suffered exile on the island of Patmos. But as for us, we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood (Hebrews 12:4). That’s not to say bloodshed may not eventually come.
Yes, we must be gentle and respectful (1 Peter 3:15), but in the same verse we are commanded always to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within us.
We hold within us the only true hope for the broken, the only cure for the sick and dying. The world needs what we have but does not want it. We will reach out in love and be slapped down in hate. But we must reach out all the same.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:3
Are you willing to take a stand? Are you willing to suffer for the name of Jesus? This is the measure of our faith.