by Bob Dasal
As a young person I remember my pastor saying, "Being a Christian isn't easy, but it's worth it." Fifty years later the question is still facing Christians: "Is it worth it?" Am I willing to suffer for Jesus' sake? Beginning with the New Testament, history records how Christians have been persecuted through the centuries and it's no different today. Surf the Internet or read your daily newspaper and you'll find story after story and incident after incident of Christians being persecuted. Here are two recent examples:
Two weeks before Christmas, 2005, twenty-nine house church leaders were arrested in Henan, China. Church leaders from Henan and Anhui Province were gathered at a believer's house discussing how the house churches could effectively help a large group of peasants who had contracted AIDS. That area is widely known as "the AIDS Disaster Area" because many peasants became infected when they sold their blood to local blood centers contaminated with the AIDS virus. When the leaders were arrested their private property was confiscated without receipts, including three motor bicycles, one cell phone, all of their luggage, and winter blankets.
The second example is Dieu Duy Den. This 43-year-old pastor from a small village in Vietnam was arrested on December 5, 2005, and sent to the prison in Bu Dang District. The reason for the arrest was his preaching of the gospel in his village.
These are powerful illustrations of how being a Christian can result in open persecution. There are Christians dying in many parts of the world for the sake of the gospel.
For us here in the United States, the persecution is not as overt but more covert. An example is how the secular media portrays Christians. On TV and in the movies we're seen as bigoted, narrow minded, and not quite bright people, who are to be ridiculed or pitied. In some political circles and in academia there is a powerful and systematic effort going on to rewrite history and remove the symbols of our Judeo-Christian heritage from public view. Profanity can exist in our public schools, but we dare not mention God or creation. Please note these efforts will only increase in 2006. The world system is diametrically opposed to Christian teachings and it is no surprise Christians are being persecuted and ridiculed.
Remember the words of Jesus, "In the world you shall have tribulation" [John 16:33]. The Apostle Paul wrote, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" [2 Tim. 3:12], and "for unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" [Phil. 1:29].
In Acts 5, when Peter and the other apostles were beaten and told to not speak the name of Jesus in Jerusalem they answered, "we ought to obey God rather than men." And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name.
At present you may or may not be enduring persecution or open ridicule. Know that the possibility of it happening in your lifetime is high, and remember that the Hebrew writer says we should "remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering" [Heb. 13:3].
The Apostle Peter said, "It is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his wonderful name" [1 Pet. 4:16 NLT].
The answer to the question in the title is a definite YES!!