The question of the hour is: “Are you ready?” “Ready for what,” someone might ask? I would reply that I am not sure, but it does not require prophetic insight to see that we are living in unsettling times. I speak from the perspective of someone who has lived relatively sheltered from the turmoil that so many other believers from around the world and down throughout history have experienced.
I am not certain that being spared from any significant persecution has been a good thing or a bad thing, but there are signs that this may soon change and I am forced to ask myself the question, “Am I ready?”
“Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it.” (2 Timothy 3:12, The Message)
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12, NLT)
“Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith.” (1 Peter 5:9, The Message)
In the 3 passages of Scripture above, I see these 3 main points: first, if we are serious about living for Jesus there will be opposition and persecution. Secondly, this fact should not come as a surprise to us, but in fact we should understand that throughout history this has been normal for God’s people. Finally, we are not alone, and are we unique because the struggles that we may face are already being faced by believers around the world.
It is of course possible that the events of this year are simply an anomaly and that eventually, things will return to normal, but on the other hand, it would be dangerous and foolhardy to assume that this is going to be the case. If we have been conditioned to believe that persecution is something that happens to people in other places or other times, but not here in the good old United States of America, we may find ourselves in a state of confusion rather than faith. It is not that we would admit publicly that we thought that we would not be subject to times like these, rather it comes about because of a certain pride or even arrogance that results from never having been subjected to these kinds of trials.
If we conclude that we are not ready to face whatever lies ahead, it is time to get serious and set our resolve to press in and stand firm. A great plan of action is found in 1 Peter 1:13-25. This is worth an in-depth study but here are the highlights:
- “Get your mind ready for action!” (Verse 13)
- “Set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Verse 13)
- “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do…” (Verse 15)
- “…conduct yourselves in reverence during your time living as strangers.” (Verse 17)
- “Through Christ you believe in God, who raised Christ from the dead and gave him glory. So your faith and your hope are in God.” (Verse 21)
- “…have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (Verse 22)
We do not know what the future looks like, but now is the time to resolve to stand firm and not be moved or shaken from the hope that we have in Christ. There are great promises available to us in God’s word that are applicable to the time in which we live. God is faithful!
I would like to give you one more reminder. The core values of E4 ministry network provide us with a solid framework for sustaining us in the work that God has called us to accomplish. We are Empowered by the Holy Spirit. His power sustains us and enables us to stay faithful no matter how difficult our circumstances may become.
We are Encouraged through the spirit and by the word so that we may be an encouragement to each other. We are Equipped and we have the responsibility to equip others so that they will be capable of teaching what we have received and what we pass on to others. Finally, we are Engaged in the effort to proclaim the gospel throughout the world.
Like the apostle Paul, we are conflicted: on one hand, we long to be with our Savior and see him face-to-face, while on the other hand we look at this world and see that there are so many that still need to hear the good news that there is a God in heaven that loves them, so remembering that the heart of God is that “he is not willing that any should perish,” the cry of our hearts remains, give us another day so that we may tell another person that God loves them.
No matter what happens, let us be ready.