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Chuck McKnight, AiG–U.S., explains why Christians must be willing to endure persecution for the sake of Christ.
Why are we in danger every hour? (1 Corinthians 15:30, (ESV))
Today’s big question: why are we in danger every hour?
When Paul wrote this, there was a very real physical danger involved with professing the name of Jesus. Christians were killed for what they believed. Paul knew this all too well. He had been among those persecuting believers before his own conversion. Followers of Christ were stoned, beheaded, and even thrown to beasts.
History has not been any kinder to Christians since then. The church has endured persecution of some form in every generation. There are still many countries today where people can be executed for professing faith in Jesus Christ.
Even in America, we face significant persecution. Although believers have experienced a period mostly free from physical attacks, the culture wants nothing to do with us. We are reviled, and all kinds of evil statements are falsely uttered against us for the sake of Christ (Matthew 5:11).
Yet we are considered blessed because of it. Why? Matthew 5:12 states, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” We suffer persecutions now so that we may be rewarded in the next life. Once again, it all comes back to the resurrection from the dead. Why would we endure these trials in this life if we did not look forward to a better life to come?
There is another type of danger we face—one much worse than receiving any sort of persecution. The danger exists that we could give in to the world’s demands to compromise our faith.
It’s no surprise that the world hates us. We preach some pretty unpleasant doctrines. Who would want to hear, for example, that Jesus is the only means of salvation and that all unbelievers will spend eternity in hell? Although it is true, such talk is intolerant! It would be much easier to give in and teach—contrary to the Bible—that everyone will reach heaven eventually.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3–4, (ESV))
That is why Paul warned us, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33, (NASB)). There is a strong temptation to desire acceptance from the world, but we are not of this world. God chose us out of the world, and therefore the world hates us (John 15:19).
Do not seek the company of those who do not believe God. Stand firm in your faith. “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin” (1 Corinthians 15:34). Follow Jesus no matter the consequence, knowing that we will one day be resurrected with Him!
Today’s big idea: we must be on guard against the danger of compromise.
What to pray: thank God for the privilege of suffering persecution for the name of Jesus!