Living His Story
Christians ought to see themselves as living the story of Jesus. Jesus lived an intentional life, perfectly yielding to the will of God and pointing all the while to His own death and resurrection. We, too, should seek to follow His path. Since He suffered, we should be willing to suffer. As He gave Himself for others, we ought to be willing to give ourselves for others. As He submitted, so ought we to submit. As He loved, so should we love. As He forgave, so ought we to forgive. We follow His example, His way, His will. We pray, with Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
It does not matter who the governing authorities are. It does not matter if rulers are nice to us or not. It doesn’t matter whether or not we agree with them or like what they do (1 Pet 2:13-25). We follow the Lord to wherever He leads. If we are oppressed for Christ, then we are to rejoice that we are considered worthy to suffer shame for his name. In that case, we are to keep preaching and teaching Jesus (Acts 5:41-42). If it happened to Christ and His chosen disciples, shall we think we will escape the derision of the world? Disciples are not above their Lord. It can be a hard lesson, but Paul told Timothy,
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed…” (2 Tim 3:12-14a)
Paul also wrote that he wanted to “know him and the power of his resurrection,” that he may “share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11).
No one wants to suffer, and the point is not that we are looking for ways to suffer. The point is that we are following Jesus, which can often lead to hostility from those who oppose Him, and that can lead to forms of persecution. If that’s where it goes, we must be faithful to death (Rev 2:10). Our study of Revelation confirms this.
Our calling is sure, and that calling is to follow the crucified Christ. We are not to deviate from His plan. We are not to see ourselves in roles to which He did not call us. There is no call from Jesus to violence or insurrection. The good fight of faith is just that. It is of faith. That fight can be justified only by the authority and grace of the One in whom we believe. We must set aside our desires, our love of this world (1 John 2:15-17), and put on the armor of God. Our sword is the Spirit’s sword, the word of God, and we are never to underestimate that power because it is directly tied to God Himself (Eph 6:10-18; Heb 4:12-13; Isa 55). If we are to be subversive, it is in the relentless teaching of His word and the living out of His story in this world. We bow to the King of kings only, and we hear what He says:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)
“Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60)
Trust God. He will handle the avenging of His people. As Revelation shows, when Babylon comes with its demands, we have another task:
“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.” (Rev 18:4-5)
In the meantime, teach Jesus. The chips will fall where they may, and we will either be found for Him or against Him. The world will think us weak. Even some who believe may think that what we are saying here is “weak.” Yet there is a pervasive theme throughout Scripture that we ought to know well: strength is made perfect through weakness. God takes what appears to be weak and makes it strong. It is not strength as the world sees it. It is not strength by political means. It is the strength He alone provides to live out the path of His kingdom, to live His will on earth as it is in heaven. It is the way of the cross, and the resurrection is coming. This is the Gospel.