We live in a world that grows increasingly hostile to Christianity. I have talked to many that fear the day when being a Christian may be against the law. Already there are those who do not speak of Jesus at work for fear of losing their job or facing persecution. We watch our speech in public for fear that we might offend someone with the name of Christ.
As I read Blogs of believers and read Twitter and Facebook statuses I am saddened. There is an atmosphere of fear for the future. Fear of the coming persecution of the Church. On many levels it is a justified fear for today’s culture does seem to be growing intolerant of Biblical morals while embracing the tolerance of sin.
I have been thinking a lot about these things lately. And I wonder what my response should be? How do I stand firm against a world that wants to keep me silent?
Today God reminded me of my response. In His word He spoke and gave me the words that express what I have been thinking.
These words were for Saul, but they speak very clearly to me for today. The Lord was speaking to Ananias in Acts 9:15-16 when He says in regards to Saul that “he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name… For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Saul was being called to suffer for the name of Christ. He was chosen to bear the name of Christ. The question came to my mind, “Am I not also chosen to bear the name of Christ?” Am I not called to suffer for His name? Yes! Yes I am!
So what does it mean to bear His name? The word bear is the Greek word bastazo which means to take up in order to carry, to put upon one’s self. To bear the name of Christ means that I am to carry the name of Christ with me everywhere. It means that I will always represent Him and speak of Him. To carry the name of Christ is to carry the Gospel to those I come into contact with. We must bear witness to the truth of Jesus, to the name of Jesus.
We must also remember that to bear His name means we will suffer. It is not just something Saul was called to do, as followers of Christ we are all called to suffer for His name. 1 Peter 2: 19-21 says this to the believer, “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,”
There are many other verses that remind us that to bear the name of Jesus means to suffer for Him also. In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus states: Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Phil 1: 27-29 “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel ; in no way alarmed by your opponents -which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
So what should my response be to the growing intolerance of Christ? To stand firm in the knowledge that we do not need to fear those who may kill the body, fire us from our jobs, imprison us or persecute us but rather we are to fear God. (Matthew 10:28; Heb 10:31; Luke 12:5) As one who bears His name I need to be encouraged that I also have victory in His name. (Romans 8:25-39)
Finally may we remember what Peter said in 1 Peter 4:12-16 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God ; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (bold highlights mine)
Yes the world will grow hostile toward Christianity. The world is ruled by Satan and we should not be surprised by the opposition that is coming. Satan is the enemy of Jesus, he is also our enemy. The world will hate us for they hate Jesus. So let us lean into Christ, stand firm in truth and continue to speak the gospel.