For today’s Christian, the future speaks of things that cause much worry and anxiety. Many are saying that persecution is coming for all Christians around the globe. That thought brings fear because many of us have enjoyed the freedom to worship God as He commanded. What happens when there is a time that we cannot openly do so? Or we are even physically harmed for doing so? What should we do? The truth is, persecution has been around for a very long time. The Bible has much to say and in this series of articles, we will be looking at six points to ponder from God’s word. Last week we looked at our Perfect Potentate, Jesus Christ. We looked at who He was, what He suffered and how He endured it. This week we will look at who we are: a peculiar people.
If Jesus is our perfect King, it is important we look at Him and His life, but we also need to take a look at who we are in relation to Him. There is much to study in this area. In this article we will look at: we are citizens, pilgrims, Christians, and children.
Since Jesus is our King, we are expected to live in His Kingdom. Right now, we are a people without a country, but Jesus said in John, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14: 2-3) The Hebrew writer puts it this way: “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14) Paul, in his letter to Ephesians called them fellow citizens. (Eph. 2:19) He also specifically mentions that our citizenship is in heaven. (Phil. 3:20)
We are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom. This means that God is sovereign in our lives. He comes before anyone else. We see that clearly in the scriptures. Luke writes, “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) I see so many being very prideful about living in America. We are blessed to have the freedoms we have here, but let’s show some pride for our true Kingdom. In that Kingdom, … “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Along with that idea is that we are pilgrims, aliens in this world. In Ephesians 2:19, Paul calls those he’s writing to “strangers and aliens.” Peter refers to those he wrote to as “aliens.” Granted, in the 1 st century, there were those who were scattered, due to persecution, away from their homes. But the idea is true also that we don’t belong here. I love the old hymn: “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…” Jesus said to store up treasures to yourselves in heaven. (Matthew 6:20) That is our real home.
One important note before we leave this point is what God told the Israelites in the Old Testament. Leviticus 19:34 says, “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” God knew it was human nature for people to treat aliens (people different than themselves) poorly, so He added a law that they should treat them well. So, unfortunately, many of those around us don’t follow any such moral codes. It is inevitable that problems and or persecutions will arise. We must be ready for the possibility.
Lastly, we are called Christians. Dictionary.com defines the word Christian as: exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike. We are to be followers of Christ. One that is a follower tries to emulate the one whom they are following. Peter says we should not be ashamed if we suffer because we are Christians following Jesus. (I Peter 4:14) In our lives, including times of persecution, we should try to copy the way Jesus acted. More on this in a future article.
In the scriptures, we are also called children of God. Paul, in writing to the Romans said:
“ For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:14-17
As children of God, there are times when we are persecuted simply because we are His. We will be mistreated by children of the devil. Peter tells us in his first letter, “…they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;…” (1 Peter 4:4) In spite of this we should never be ashamed of our Father.
James said it best when he said, “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) In the grand scheme of things, we will only be in this world for a short time. Also, Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) Let’s stay focused on our eternal home. We must keep our eyes looking up toward Heaven, our promised city of rest (Hebrews 4:1). Keep in mind who our King is, that we are citizens of His Kingdom, sojourners here on earth, followers of Christ. Let’s follow Him home!
by Dawn Pasley
Dawn Pasley has been married to her college sweetheart, James, for more than 21 years. They attend Fraley’s Chapel church of Christ in Corinth, MS where he works as a minister. Together they have 5 children: a son and 4 daughters. She is blessed to be a homeschooling mom and enjoys her family, church family and pets. A graduate of Faulkner University, Dawn has a degree in Elementary Education.