Society is hurtling down a path of rebellion against and rejection of God at an alarming rate, perhaps unprecedented in modern history. We have arrived at an era where culture labels good evil and celebrates the wicked. And in all likelihood things will get much worse before they get any better – perhaps not improving until Christ returns.
In particular, those who profess faith and fidelity for Christ will face increasingly daunting and difficult circumstances that will test their commitment to Him. And retribution for practicing Scripturally-sound faith will come not just from the government, as many fear, but from commercial and social institutions as well.
It doesn’t require much creativity to imagine businesses in the near future demanding all employees sign a covenant committing to the organization’s values, some of which will certainly contravene those espoused by the Bible. Those who refuse will be swiftly terminated and not enjoy the benefit of a favorable reference when they seek new employment.
Similarly, social media seems increasingly hostile to those who embrace a biblical worldview or have the temerity to share the Gospel. It seems reasonable that such opposition will intensify to the point of marginalizing and ostracizing to society’s periphery any who publically claim Christ as Lord. In fact, many believers will find themselves verbally abused, bullied, and rejected not just by online trolls but by former friends as well.
In short, the cost of surrendering to Christ, declaring your love for Him, and obeying His word will continue to climb. For many, the cost will become too steep and they will renounce their faith outright, or sanitize it so society no longer deems it offensive, or practice it in private to avoid the consequences. But Jesus expects us to stand firm, persevere in the face of intimidation, boldly proclaim His Word, and resist the temptation to compromise truth.
So how do we prepare for the pending tsunami of persecution? How do we avoid acquiescing to societal pressure out of fear and remain steadfast in our love for Jesus despite the coming consequences?
We need to adopt the mindset of the apostle Paul, who before his conversion to Christ enjoyed every imaginable benefit of this world. He was wealthy, powerful, admired, feared, and distinguished. He wanted for nothing and lived a charmed life.
But after his encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road, Paul adopted a new view on those things he previously counted as gain (such as his reputation, influence, comfort, and authority). He tells us, “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Indeed, I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him … that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:7-8, 10, NKJV).
Paul endured significant suffering, deteriorating health, imprisonment, and the loss of all things he previously valued. Yet his faith never wavered. In fact, it thrived because he had come to terms with the cost of following Christ. He willingly exchanged those things he previously valued for “the excellence of knowing Christ.” For Paul, the choice between the world’s enticements and fellowship with the living God was no choice at all. And so he recalibrated his priorities, his plans, and his perspective accordingly.
What things do you count as gain in your life today: your career, reputation, financial stability, safety, or a life of comfort and leisure? Would you compromise, sanitize, or renounce your faith to preserve them? Or will your faith emerge more vibrant and mature than ever following the approaching onslaught of coercion, cruelty, and consequences?
Commit today to counting as loss those things that now hold your attention and distract you from your relationship with Christ. Commit anew to pursuing the excellence of knowing Him, following His example, and embracing His standard of holiness. As you do, you’ll not only know Christ more intimately but, like Paul, you’ll also know “the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering” so that you may “attain to the resurrection of the dead.”