“Going through this race as a Christian is going to cost you.” -Pastor Nathan Houston
I’ve read the Bible. I still read it, thank God. And I always want to skip the verses about peace, joy, love, abundance, grace, and mercy. I don’t sit too often with letters such as the one Paul wrote Timothy towards the end of his life, Paul’s last exhortation to a dearly loved son in the faith.
In it, Paul is very raw and real with Timothy. 2 Timothy 3: 12 provides, “Now in fact all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
This past Sunday we mediated on 2 Timothy 3:10-13. Pastor Nate spoke on the godly life lived out. I don’t know about you, but I have bought into the American version of Christianity from time to time:
the nice house, that family that goes to weekly church meetings and prays together,
the good job, the nice car, the peaceful neighborhood, and the monthly volunteer activities.
But this is not the story that Paul paints in 2 Timothy 3:10-13 of the godly life. Paul speaks about his way of life, his purpose, his love, his endurance, his persecutions and sufferings. Paul wakes both Timothy and us up with the reality.
Paul’s life was full of persecution, writing from prison, knowing he would never leave and be killed for the faith. This is the life of a godly man. As Pastor Nate shared, Stephen was stoned to death for his faith. (Acts 7:54-8:2) If you say you are walking with God, this is what you signed up for, what I signed up for. In fact, if I’m not being persecuted I have to ask myself: am I living a godly life? Because persecution is promised.
Even David knew that living for God meant persecution and cost, when he refused to honor God unless the thing he honored God with cost him something, 1 Chronicles 21: 24. I think about these attitudes, Paul, David, and Stephen and I am blown away because for any sane person to desire persecution means that whatever they are getting is SO much better. And there ain’t anything on this earth that I would give up in exchange for persecution? (Love you mom and dad, but I gotta be real.) What they had, had to be worth more than life.
As Pastor Nate shared Paul suffered for his purpose, to preach the gospel. Just think, living his purpose for Christ was worth the persecution. What kind of joy is so abundant that persecution, death by crucifixion, was a price that he was willing to pay and wait to pay it at that? I know some of us won’t pay $3.99 for a Big Mac when two McChicken’s cost $2.00.
But think about it. Not many of us will have to physically die for our faith. Paul can only tell us that Christ is worth it because he went through the ultimate cost of following Jesus. Talk about power in testimony. “The more you go through things, the more you can help others,” Pastor Nate. The persecution is only preparation for your calling, your purpose. We all want to hear overcoming stories, the underdog victorious. We naturally defer to people who have been there, done that, and have flourished as a result. Why? Because they know the cost, paid it, and are all the better for it. This is what Paul is sharing here: The cost to follow Christ is persecution and it is worth it.
Anyone who tells you different is blind, lost, lying, and running to death. They are “walking closer and closer to death” every day. We have to see through the spirit, 2 Tim. 3:1-8, 13. They are deceiving themselves. How can anything temporary fully satisfy? The word itself means it’s only meant to last for a limited period of time.
As Pastor Nate shared Sunday, we need to stand on the promises of God. He promised persecution, but he promises life (John 10:10), to never leave us (Deut. 31:6), to fight our battles (Exodus 14:14), his peace surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7), and so much more.
I have never been to a party, a wedding, a job, a house, a car, a family, a friend, or any earthly thing that has ever promised me nor delivered any of these things to me. But the peace, hope, grace, and deliverance of God I know, when everything is falling apart around me, when my best friend abandoned me, when I’ve purposefully sinned against God, when I have no one to lean on, when I cannot protect myself and no one wants to. So why am I so quick to put my hope and trust in these flawed and failed things? Time to reevaluate this life journey.
Persecution is coming and with it, purpose!
I am a writer, a poet. I peruse life like a storybook, a tale, where the ending is unknown but believed to be happily ever after. I am an attorney by trade. I am a singer, poet, and actress by desire and gift. I am a member of City Church of Sacramento and I am growing in grace and repentance. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and friend, all of which I am gratefully budding in.