Last week my college roommate and I had an email conversation about this pandemic and how it possibly relates to the last days spoken of in Scripture. Beth and I were born in the 60’s but grew up in the 70’s. We cut our teeth on the Jesus Movement, Keith Green music, in-home Bible studies, and the movies A Distant Thunder and A Thief in the Night. The first time I studied the book of Revelation was when I was 13 years old. We have been studying end-time prophecies almost as long as Hal Lindsay has been writing about them.
Beth and I agreed that we could see persecution of Christians beginning to hit very close to home. Both of us believe that it will not be long before we ourselves will experience the same level of persecution that Christians experience in places like North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, India, and many other countries. As we discussed this impending persecution, I shared some thoughts with Beth, and I thought I would share them with you, too.
As people of the Word, we know how the story ends. We’ve been learning about it our whole lives. We are seeing the stage being set for future events to unfold. Our response should be to continue to do the things that God has called us to do and live lives of obedience.
As we contemplate the possibility of facing severe persecution, fear can sometimes start creeping in. But I believe we need to remember several things:
1. Even before the term “Christian” was coined in Antioch (Acts 11:26) in the first century, governments have oppressed Christians. In the top 50 worst countries to be a Christian, 11 people are killed every day for their faith in Christ. Why should we Americans be exempt from persecution? I don’t believe our government is purposely putting measures into place to target Christians and Christian churches – yet. But it is clear that certain measures being taken now will make it easier to take more obtrusive measures later, and in my opinion, the result will be that we will face persecution similar to Christians in the worst places.
2. Persecution causes the gospel to spread like wildfire! Just read the book of Acts. The entire New Testament was written BY persecuted Christians TO persecuted Christians. We should be willing to give up everything we have to see the fire of the Holy Spirit fall on our country like it did in the New Testament church and like it does in the harshest countries in the world.
3. We need to remember to Whom we belong. If we are truly believers, then our lives are not our own and we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. We serve a perfect Master who does all things well, holds us in the palm of His hand, and is in control. When things look like they are spinning out of control, they’re not. He’s taking all of the chaos and working it out for our good. How??? I don’t know! But He’s God and He knows.
Neither pandemic nor persecution changes how we are called to live every single day. Hopefully, it will light the fire under some Christians that have been living complacent, self-satisfying lives. It’s a wake up call to all of us.
God is working. He has never stopped working, but maybe we have stopped working with Him and for Him. Maybe it is time that we stop living for ourselves and start living with an eternal mindset.
I don’t know when Christ will return, but I do know it will be soon! The writers of the New Testament expected Him to return at any moment in their lifetime. How much more should we expect it?
Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!