THIS COMING PERSECUTION
By Chad Taylor
"And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell..." (James 3:6)
We are entering a greater level of His glory which will be accompanied with a greater level of persecution. I was reviewing some of the persecution of our hero's of the Bible; Paul, David, Moses, etc. Do you realize much of their persecution was reasonable or even justified? David murdered and committed adultery. Actions that would warrant imprisonment and the tabloids today. In other words, they had every reason to persecute him! But David was still a man after God's own heart and chosen of God as king.
Moses murdered, abandoned his family in Egypt, fell from his lofty position of ministry and authority. Paul was a mass-murderer. He was the one carrying the warrants for their arrest and lampooning the early Church. They had every moral and legal reason to hound these early Christians! But God chose the foolish things to confound the wise! Their persecution put them in a place of greater grace and glory. We do not associate that with God's blessing today. Like Job's friends, we look at the obvious, his suffering, as God's judgment and wrath when in reality it is His favor. Again: "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." (Acts 5:41).
Yes, they were persecuted for the preaching of the word, but they were also breaking the law of the land by preaching it! It's the lifestyle that these people lived that merited the persecution that deemed them fit for the honor of "suffering shame for His name..." I tell you this, all of us must ARM ourselves with this mentality, for the fire is coming on all that desire the greater works and the greater glory, it will cost you everything, including your reputation and status. "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin..." (1 Pet 4:1).
Today in contemporary thinking it is who likes you and approves of you that qualifies you for ministry or Christian service. We pass out Christian resumes and accolades that say, "I am a great guy, have me come and speak at your church!" In Paul's day it was quite different... "Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you... (1 Cor 4:13-14).
This same warning is echoing through history today. It is looking at us in our well-to-do faces and saying, "Are you ready to die? Are you ready to lose everything for the call? Are you prepared to be hated and scorned so as to be entrusted with My secret treasures of grace and power?" We must pass through the eye of the needle of suffering and persecution if we desire to enter into the fields of favor and harvest that are waiting for this generation.
In the New Testament it was who hated and despised you that set you apart for ministry not how many people loved and adored you. Today it is how many men speak well of you. In reference to the scripture in Luke 6 I wonder who really is qualified for service then? "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26).
Paul faced the same dilemma in his time. Many were clamoring for Christian service and position. Men desired position more than they desired His power. That is obvious today. It is not how many people have been saved or the moral climate of cities that have been radically altered by your ministry, but to the contrary, who is you covering? Who approves or disapproves of you? The fruit no longer has any weight, only how others approve or disapprove of a person. There is a powerful lesson to learn here: "But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that you may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." (John 10:38).
It was what Jesus did not what He appeared to be that changed the world. If who he appeared to be was the proof of His claims, then He was a devil, a false prophet, a mad-man. But rather it was what He did, His fruit, the Father's approval through the signs, wonders, and fulfilled prophecy that elevated Him to Messiah. Men seek appearances, God walks through the wilderness of people's hearts and finds Himself. Jesus defied appearances. We chase them. Jesus scorned those that esteemed themselves. We worship them. Jesus said it better, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24).
Everything that appears to be good today could be hated tomorrow. We must strip ourselves of this modern day theology of approval and disapproval and begin to see people through Christ's eyes. Jesus defined this kind of generation: "To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.' For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' (Luke 7:31-34).
Things are never what they appear to be. The scales of modern day thinking must be peeled off first and the eyes of our understanding enlightened if we are ever to see clearly the radical generation that is now appearing. Even the ancient prophet Samuel had to have these scales taken away. He too was looking at appearances to determine who was approved or disapproved by God. He nearly missed the king! "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart..." (1 Sam 16:7).
The characters that will lead the march into harvest at this junction will be the ones totally rejected by man. They will be the mis-fits and offscouring of all things. They will not have chosen this road, no one ever does. But it will be the cross that faces them on their journey. Many will turn away from this cross of persecution and rejection and will go back. Others will count the cost, and because of the joy set before them, will endure the shame. They will be the last great army that ushers in the King of Kings to forever reign. Like John the Baptist they will have had to pledge their heads to heaven. And mark this, God will take it. It is time to gird ourselves up and arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. Only then will we see beyond the portals of persecution into the fields of His favor. God grant your servants this grace.
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame-- who set their mind on earthly things... (Phil 3:18-19).