This morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord” I thought of all of those who have decided to follow Christ and have faced pressure to turn back, compromise their resolve, and faced incredible persecution! It may have happened at school, a college, or university… It may have occurred from colleagues in the workplace… former “friends” may have been the source… a prisoner who has decided to follow the Lord faithfully may experience pressure and persecution in prison… it may even come from family members. There are individuals suffering severe persecution today – even facing death for their faith today in various places in our world! Bottom line… it is often costly – very costly to follow the Lord!
Jesus warned His disciples that the decision to follow Him would be costly…
He said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household! Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34–39 ESV)
But Jesus also assured His faithful followers with these words… “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered! Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows! So, everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:29–33 ESV)
So today, if you’re facing pressure and persecution as a result of your stand for Christ and your decision to follow Him, I spent some time praying for you! I know some of you by name! I want you to know I lifted you and your situation to the Lord in prayer! And I know there a many faithful fellow Christians that are praying around the world today for fellow Christians suffering persecution… Listen, we “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the ‘law of Christ!’” (Galatians 6:2) We follow the example of our Savior who looked at Simon Peter one day and uttered these words: “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired you that he might sift you as wheat! But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail!” (Luke 22:31-32)