Being a Christian is not all daisies and cupcakes. It’s not always easy. It’s not always friendly. What should you expect as a Christian in this world?
Persecution from the World:
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Persecution is a fundamental part of Christianity. There are Christians in various parts of the world who are suffering intense persecution now, even to the point of losing possessions, freedom, and life. This history of persecution can be traced back to the beginning of the church. Early Christians were both persecuted by the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman Empire. Many of the great Christians you read about in Scripture were executed for Christ.
While many modern Christians face very light persecution, and sadly many try to overplay or invent persecution stories, actual persecution really does exist here and now. It is nearly impossible to have a discussion about any relevant moral issue once somebody finds out you are a Christian. Your motives are attacked, you are insulted, and productive communication ceases. Christians are often judged as being judgmental, called ignorant by the ignorant, and hated for being hateful. The hypocrisy of those who call us hypocritical is blindingly obvious. Yet, this is one of the many ways we carry our cross while following Jesus.
Animosity from Family:
“For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me…” (Matthew 10:35-37).
Now, there are some, myself included, who have been greatly blessed as to have the majority of their physical family also be in their spiritual family. What this means is that their family rejoices with them in their conversion to Christ. This is not always the case, however.
If you turn your life to Christ, be prepared for your family to resent you for it. To see you as “holier than thou,” “pious,” or “judgmental.” They might think you are throwing your life away. They might see you as drifting farther from the family, joining a cult, or losing your mind. This is often the initial reaction, sometimes it remains, sometimes it does not. But this can be an extremely heavy cross to bear.
Frustration from Brethren:
“So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).
One of the saddest truths about Christianity is that many of our biggest critics are other Christians. Brethren divide over the most pointless and derivative minutiae one can possibly imagine. Hateful words are spoken about those who preach “grace” and about those who preach “obedience.” Lines of fellowship are drawn over semantics, schools, political parties, evangelistic methods, and church budgets. Commands for unity, patience, and tolerance are neglected in favor of “that time Paul rebuked someone by name,” while some brethren will condemn anyone who rebukes anyone for any reason. And as a result, brethren drift farther and farther from each other, and the teachings of Jesus. Even Christians will not always act like Christians. This cross will break your heart when if you try to carry it.
It to be Completely Worth it:
“the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
There is no better life in this whole world than that of a faithful Christian. If you really let the teachings of Christ radically change your life, you will become a better spouse, parent, friend, employee, and person. It’s impossible not to.
The best people I have ever met are faithful, loving Christians. They don’t get a lot of publicity. The headliner is when Christians fail, the pastor has an affair, or the church sign says something hateful. But behind the terrible news stories, inflammatory rhetoric, and bitter vitriol are people. Godly, real, imperfect, generous, loving, forgiving people.
I love my brothers and sisters in Christ. I love our fellowship. The relationships formed by the blood of Jesus far supersede any persecution from the world, criticisms from family, or immaturity from brothers in Christ. There is no comparison.
The spiritual bond of the church makes everything else worth it, but fellowship with the Lord Himself is my greatest joy. In this relationship I have grace, forgiveness, and acceptance. I have a mighty Friend who no enemy can overcome. I am granted freedom from my past, unfathomable joy in the present, and access to God for eternity. That is what you can expect as a Christian.
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”
2 Corinthians 4:17