For the most part, expressing our faith costs us little – at least for the present. The same spirits that stood at the foot of the Cross mocking Jesus still roam the Earth. They now occupy other hosts, but their mission is the same – to silence the sound of truth.
The Apostle Paul experienced persecution, not for being everyone’s friend or doing nice things for people. He was persecuted for speaking the truth in love to people that did not want to hear the message of Jesus Christ and the truth associated with that message. His own words define what a visible and verbal faith will experience.
“I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm” (II Corinthians 11: 23-27).
In Western culture, we currently have legal insulation, at least for now, from persecution because we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ or speak an uncomfortable and unwelcomed truth in love. A time is coming where our spiritual epitaph might resemble the words of Paul.
Events are transpiring that are setting the stage for a new reality – a reality that will carry significant consequences for speaking the truth to individuals and institutions of culture. The current arguments we see taking place over ideas and opinions that create heated exchanges on social media resulting in people unfriending each other are not the kind of persecution Paul experienced. Neither are attempts at censorship or media bias. They are only indicators of the initial disruption that truth creates. Something else is approaching and it has consequences the current expression of the Western Church has not been prepared to engage.
In the coming days, keep your faith simple and your heart anchored only in Jesus. Do not project outcomes or fear the consequences of your obedience. Take each step of faith the Lord calls you to take. He will be with you every step of the way no matter what transpires.