The Questions Regarding Persecution

Often I have quoted 2 Timothy 3:12: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (NKJV). Little did it occur to me, until recently, that the Apostle Paul was speaking these words in reference to his imprisonment and impending death at the hand of the Roman Emperor Nero. Even without this context, I have drawn much encouragement and spiritual strength from those words and have shared the same with many faced with their crucibles to remind them that suffering is not foreign to the followers of Christ. However my recent visit to Rome, coupled with the reading of Acts of the Apostles and the Great Controversy, have further enlightened me of the enormous persecution faced by Christians. While touring a coliseum at Rome and being informed of the nature of killing from being burned at the stake, torn apart by ferocious beasts, to being beheaded as in the case of the Apostle Paul, I have wondered why God would allow the righteous to suffer in these cruel manners. Why didn’t He intervene? Of course, as I recall the cruel death of John the Baptist, the question only intensified “why?”

Why Did Not God Intervene?

In response to such a question, I find the words of Ellen White most comforting and trust that it will do the same for you. She writes, “This is a question with which we have nothing to do. God has given us sufficient evidence of His love, and we are not to doubt His goodness because we cannot understand the workings of His providence” (GC 47). She adds, “Said the Saviour to His disciples, foreseeing the doubts that would press upon their souls in days of trial and darkness: ‘Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you’” -John 15:20 (Ibid). The life of a Christian is one of explicit and implicit faith, totally believing in God and not giving way to doubt even for a moment. Here is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, when we are praying for an answer to a current situation that challenges us financially; marriage or family wise; academically or health wise. At times it seems that God is not hearing, or is taking forever to answer, and therefore the temptation of doubt sets in. It is then that we need to hold and cling tenaciously to His promises. However, there is another aspect to persecution that “blows my mind.”

A More Important Question

What question can be more important than the above? According to Mrs. White, “There is another and more important question that should engage the attention of the churches of today.” “What is it?” you ask. Ellen White asks, “Why is it, then, that persecution seems in a great degree to slumber?” (GC 48). I must warn that the answer is most revealing as she says, “The only reason is that the church has conformed to the world’s standard and therefore awakens no opposition. The religion, which is current in our day, is not of the pure and holy character that marked the Christian faith in the days of Christ and His apostles. It is only because of the spirit of compromise with sin, because the great truths of the word of God are so indifferently regarded, because there is so little vital godliness in the church, that Christianity is apparently so popular with the world”(Ibid).

I need not tell you that this made me uncomfortable, but it got worse as I considered that she spoke in reference to her day. Now in applying this to our current age, I am even more disturbed. Am I doing all that I can to model Christ? Are you? Are we? This is the more important question that we must answer. So help me God to live for you in total submission.