Last weekend when Daddy and I visited his sister in South Carolina, we attended church with her. We were so blessed and moved by the music and the Word. Her pastor had just returned the night before from a two-week mission trip to Africa. He may have been suffering jet lag, but you certainly couldn’t tell it from his message! The Scripture was from Revelation and dealt with the church in Smyrna; the persecuted church. He reminded us of all the persecution of Christians currently taking place in our world. Here in America it is easy to forget that people actually suffer for the Gospel. He asked the question as to why the church in America isn’t persecuted? I knew the answer was because the church in America doesn’t really look any different than the “world” around us. That was his point. He admonished us to “stand firm” in our faith, but to be prepared to be persecuted. Oh, we might not be shot or thrown in prison, but we could be ostracized by family or friends, or passed over for that promotion, or maybe even let go from the job. There are all kinds of persecution. I don’t really want to be persecuted anymore than you do, but I also don’t want to look the same as the unbelieving world around me. Jesus in me makes me a new creature; no longer the “worldly” creature I was, but a new creature. When I stop and think about all God has done for me through His Son Jesus, it makes me sad to think of how many times I walk in my flesh and not in His Spirit. God gave us EVERYTHING! All He asks of us is OBEDIENCE. Now, I know someone is going to say something about how we live under grace and not under law. That is very true, but grace is a gift and it is not to be taken for granted. We can’t just live any ol’ way WE want to. This may surprise some of you, but sin still has consequences. Sin doesn’t change how much God loves us (that is grace), but it does have consequences. The church in America will continue to look no different than the world unless we allow God’s Spirit to control our every thought, our every word, our every action, our every decision. Yes, that may bring persecution. But as Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Being glorified with Jesus tops any suffering we might be called to face. Verse 18 goes on to say “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” How much do we love and trust God? Do we love Him with ALL our hearts, ALL our souls, ALL our minds? If we did, wouldn’t we look different than the world? Just something to ponder.
Lots of love, Sharon