April 25, 2012

God holds my hand

Religious persecution happens all over the world. Where I live, it comes in the name of tolerance. That is, everyone is supposed to tolerate the beliefs of others and allow them their say. However, for those who are Christian, this means we must tolerate, but we will not be tolerated. That is, if a Christian speaks out against anything the Bible calls sin and the general population has decided otherwise, our voice is not tolerated. Yet, those who disagree with us can say all manner of accusation against our beliefs and they will be applauded.
Sometimes Christians, like others, can be offensive and even wrong in declaring what they think the Bible says or how it should be applied. We shoot ourselves in the foot when we are less than Christlike in our interactions with the rest of the world. When people react to our impolite or even insulting behavior, we cannot call that persecution. Real persecution happens when we live godly lives and are mocked and ridiculed for goodness.

I’ve wondered if this possibility keeps me from full obedience. If so, it is rooted in the fear of man, in wanting to be accepted by people even to the point of neglecting God’s commands. Yet I’ve also realized that merely by confessing my faith I can rile others. Those who are known as the children of God do not have to provoke reactions in the rest of humanity; it just happens, even as Jesus said it would.
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:20)
Living the Christian life seems challenging enough without opposition. Yet even in the opposition, God ensures that His people are kept in His care. In fact, if I were hounded by any enemies, it might be due to a deeper relationship with God than I have now. Certainly persecution would lead to a deeper relationship.
Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:11–13)
When I am in trouble, the normal thought is that I must reach out and hold the hand of God. These verses promise that during persecution, God will reach out and hold my hand. Furthermore, He will make nothing of any who hate me. They will vanish from my life and become nothing, and unless they make their lives right with God, they will perish.

Lord, this last line is not a pleasant thought. I’m not a vengeful person and usually feel great sorrow for those who do not understand the Gospel and have not experienced salvation or a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. When I read that the enemies of believers will perish, I feel distressed. Those whom I know are not trusting You have been written on my prayer list. Again, I ask You to have mercy and save them. At the same time, the fact of Your hand holding mine is a great comfort and assurance.

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