Last weekend at GOC’s spring retreat, one of our speakers taught on persecution. One of the verses he quoted was this: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).
The Monday immediately following spring retreat, my small group leader, Chris, pointed out that persecution is a necessary component for the definition of “godliness.” He also pointed out that at GOC, it is easy to be called a godly person even if one isn’t persecuted, even if one doesn’t share the gospel. But godliness is not defined merely by how one presents oneself to the brethren, it is also defined by how one presents oneself to non-believers. Sharing the gospel is a necessary component of every Christian life, it is a necessary component of the word “godly,” and it is something for which passion and action are lacking at GOC. Thus came I to the conclusion that although I do not need to be asking for persecution or seeking it for its own sake, I need to be living my life in such a way–Paul terms it “godly”–that it attracts persecution. To re-tool 2 Tim. 3:12: persecution is the indication of a godly life.
To me, this is extremely convicting. I aspire to live a godly life before God and man, but that will never be so unless I commit to share the good news of the gospel, no matter the cost. But even more convicting was this: Chris noted that when we do not share the gospel, we rob God of His glory. He deserves to be recognized and worshiped for what He did on the cross, in every way possible. Our praise to Him for the cross should not be limited to church and small group and Friday night fellowship–it should fill every part of our lives, touching everyone we meet, because that is what He deserves. When I do not share the gospel, God does not get what He deserves. When I do not share the Gospel, I rob Him of His glory. Even worse, when I use an excuse that involves my preferences, such as “I don’t want to be ostracized,” I rate my desires higher than the desires of God. That is pride. And that certainly robs Him of His glory.
Thus, to glorify God by obedience to His word, to glorify God by spreading recognition of His grace, I have renewed resolve to share the gospel. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matt. 9:37). Martyrs were killed for their faith, other believers jailed, others beaten. Still others were mocked and scorned and ridiculed, but all persevered in their godliness to glorify God. The rich company of other persecuted believers and a lost world in need of the gospel await us. A worthy God commands us. Godliness demands us.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” . . . 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:13-15, 17)
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)