This article is a timely reminder that persecution follows those that are called according to Christ. If you live for Him, then you may be required to die for Him.
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Are you ready, to stand for truth, because He awaits you saints, standing in salute of your fortified stance?
I am thankful that I do not live in a country where if I mentioned Jesus, I could be killed. However, this is not the same for our fellow brothers and sisters globally. In Acts, one of the factors that contributed to the unprecedented growth of the early Ekklesia was the persecution that followed. Subsequently, martyrs became a common experience for the early believers, with Stephen being the first recorded martyr in Acts 7.
In this chapter of Acts, Stephen sees the heaven’s open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. Acts 7:55-56 is the only place referenced in scripture that Jesus is standing at the right hand of God, all other places mentioned that He is either seated or at the right hand of the Father. Jesus being seated signifies the accomplishment of His finished work and his dominion, power and sovereignty that He has over the universe.
Moreover, the significance of Jesus standing parallels Jesus’ trial before the religious leaders, whereby He stood accused, now He stands vindicated with the favour of the Father. Furthermore, King Jesus stands beside those whose blood is shed for the gospel and will come to their defence and judge their persecutors. Also standing to welcome the martyred saints.
It is important to know this because it assures us that Christ Jesus is responsive to those who die for His cause for the sake of the Kingdom of God. For many of us believers in the West, this thankfully is currently not our experience. However, does this mean that believers in the West, do not suffer persecution? As 2 Timothy 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
To receive salvation is free because the cost of salvation is paid in the blood of Christ. The cost of discipleship is death, as we are commanded to carry our cross and follow Him. Death to our baseless appetites, to our formula of doing things, to the flesh that is at enmity to the spirit. A life that is willing to serve God and advance the Kingdom of God through the establishment of His Ekklesia is a life that is willing to die. You can only die for what you have lived for.
If you are asked to contravene those laws, what do you do? Do you ask God to allow you to compromise this once, or do you stand for truth, no matter the consequence? It takes courage to stand, but you do not stand alone.
Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to do the right thing regardless of the earthy cost. In these lands, many have suffered at the hands of their persecutors: lost their jobs, imprisonment and chastisement because of their unwillingness to compromise. I salute them as patriots of the Kingdom. Below, their names are listed.
- Aaron and Melissa Klein
- Daniel and Amy McArthur
- Olive Jones
- Peter and Hazelmary Bull
- Felix Ngole
- Kim Davis
The list is not exhaustive of the many individuals both known and unknown who have been persecuted for the sake of the Kingdom. What these individuals all have in common is their refusal to compromise on their beliefs and their fortitude to stand for truth even when it is not popular opinion.
In this day and age, social media pages are scrutinised before you enter certain courses and jobs, and an organisation may find that your beliefs and values are contradicted by their policies. Our online profile is just as important as our offline; who we say we are online should line up with who we are offline. Where do you stand on social and moral issues, when asked? There is no neutrality in the Kingdom; you must have an opinion.
Brethren be wise, compromising does not start when you forsake righteousness, or when you stumble, but begins with subtle contraventions to your values. God has certainly called us to be a light in the darkness, so, do not dim your light or lose your flavour as the salt of the Earth.
For King and for country.
Esther serves as a deacon in the Islington fellowship. A social work professional, Esther oversees the ministries behavioural change strategy and leads pastoral development. Esther is passionate about seeing believers Activate Citizenship.