Jesus said there will be persecution.
Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” (ESV)
Meriam Ibrahim, a young Christian woman in Sudan, was thrown in jail while pregnant because she married a Christian. They sentenced her to death. They told her that they would spare her if she renounced her faith in Jesus Christ and she refused.
Here in America we are not facing that same level of persecution, but we are not without it altogether. In America one of the most offensive things you can say in a conversation about religion is to claim that Jesus is the only way to God. You can say that Jesus is true for me, but not for you, but you can’t claim that Jesus is the one true God. That’s seen as narrow-minded, bigoted and divisive. They want you to be more tolerant, while at the same time, they are not tolerant of your view. They’re hypocrites and they don’t even realize it.
It’s not that Christians want to be viewed as narrow-minded or that we don’t want to get along with other people. We are just following what Jesus said in John 14:6:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (ESV)
Why is this claim so offensive? If I say that Jesus is the only way, and you say that there are many ways, why should that offend you? Don’t people have differences of belief all the time without offense being taken? I personally think that LeBron James is a better basketball player than Kevin Durant. If we’re having a discussion on who should have gotten the MVP in the 2013-14 season, I’m going to try to convince you that I’m right. Even if it was a passionate discussion, I’m quite sure that my opponent wouldn’t call me narrow-minded or arrogant. Why am I not treated the same when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ?
It’s because, in part, the price tag of belief in Jesus seems too great. If you come to my side and agree that LeBron is better than KD, then you don’t lose anything. You can still see yourself as a good person. Your co-workers will still like you and you’re probably not going to lose any friends over it. You get to keep your girlfriend and your family probably won’t disown you. That decision doesn’t really have an impact on your life.
However, if you decide to believe in Jesus, you may lose a lot because if what Jesus says is true, your life will never be the same. You will realize that you are a sinner. You’re self-righteousness will turn to shame and guilt. You will realize that only the Grace of God can save you, that you can’t save yourself. When you tell your boyfriend that you want to wait until marriage to have sex, he might leave you. If you tell your co-workers that in Matthew 19 Jesus said that marriage was meant to be between one man and one woman, your co-workers might try to have you fired. Imagine that you’re from a devout Jewish family and you announce that you have become a Christian, they might disown you. If you’re a Muslim in Syria or Saudi Arabia and you tell your family that you’ve become a Christian, they might throw you in jail, stone you or both.
The question people must ask themselves is: Is it worth it?
Is it better to believe a lie that makes you feel comfortable or is it better to face the truth that will at times make you uncomfortable?
Who can blame somebody for wanting to be happy? Who can blame somebody for just wanting to get along with everybody by going with whatever is popular?
The problem is that sometimes when you choose the easy route, you end up with problems later when you have to face reality. So what’s the answer?
Is the persecution worth it? Yes, because Jesus proved who He was. Like a jump-shot off the glass in a basketball game, Jesus predicted His death and resurrection. He called it. He called it so that people would know that He was God incarnate and would listen to what He said.
Is the persecution worth it? Yes, because Jesus loved me so much that He died for my sins.
Is the persecution worth it? Yes, because all those who don’t accept Jesus will face God’s wrath for their sins.
Is the persecution worth it? Yes, because I would rather face man’s persecution now, than God’s wrath later.
Is the persecution worth it? Yes, because Jesus promised that if I seek the kingdom of God and all His righteousness, all other things will be added to me, which means I’ll be winning in the end, even if it’s not in my earthly life.