Jesus knew the price His followers would have to pay in this wicked world. The promise of eternal life in Him comes with a high cost. Yet, Jesus said that it’s worth every penny we own and every drop of blood running through our veins. Who we fear and bow down to, even in great peril we might face, is critical to our very lives. He warned us in Matthew 10:28:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Our eternal destinies are on the line based on who we serve. In the 10/40 Window primarily in the Middle East, our brothers and sisters in Christ confront this issue day in and day out. The majority of Christ-followers in these Muslim, Hindu and Communist countries make a deliberate decision when they ask Jesus to be their Savior and Lord. They know from their surrounding culture that the Name of Jesus is anathema, i.e. a curse, among their people. In a sense, the religions they follow are insecure. The gods of those religions don’t seem strong enough to protect their people from the Word of God. They need the adherents of Islam, Hinduism, or Communist atheism to fight for them. The gods of these religions cannot fight for themselves. This causes disciples of these philosophies to come against Christians in defense of their gods. They attack, harm, and kill believers in Christ.
Yet, what did Jesus say? Don’t fear them. There is One greater who can do more than destroy the body, which is all these people following false doctrines can do. The God of the Bible can cast the soul into hell. He is the One to fear and revere.
This creates potential conflict for Christians in these hostile nations. Do they acknowledge Christ? Do they approach the Gospel in shame? What are the consequences? Jesus lays it out succinctly in Matthew 10:32-33:
“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
To a believer these Words should resolve any doubt he may have when opposition comes. Knowing how the Father will view him based on his response in a time of trouble should set his mind and heart straight. Serving God and Him alone is the only choice. Our brethren overseas have encountered this fact and remained true, even to the death.
And death – even a violent one – is what may be what one may face in the midst of those who are anti-Christ, and thus, anti-God, i.e. those who hate God. Despite this, Jesus gives this assurance in Matthew 10:39:
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
We live in perilous times. Our nation is on a downward course toward insignificance. How do we know this? Because nowhere in the Bible do we find a strong nation such as America. In Ezekiel’s War (Ezekiel 38-39), Israel has no allies. Her best friend today is absent. In the Tribulation of the book of Revelation, America doesn’t even appear as a powerful nation among the ones described.
The odds are great that we will soon see persecution similar to our brethren in the Middle East. What is currently happening in our nation is right out of the Bible. Lawlessness is rising in ways we never expected. An antichrist spirit is overtaking our land. With these, fear is rising, and many have no idea where to turn. Even within the church, apostasy is rampant because of Biblical illiteracy and unbelief.
We should embrace the Words of Jesus as He warns of what is to come. We should believe that He is the only answer, whether in a time of prosperity or one of despair.
Let us bolster our faith; let us strengthen it through God’s Word. Let’s turn to Christ and cling to Him. We have His assurance in Matthew 10:40:
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
Let us not fear, whatever the day might bring.