Persecution Is Coming!
Are You Persecution Proof?
As the Climate increasingly changes here in the West from what has appeared to be apathetic indifference to what is growing into outright hostility and even hatred towards those who both Practice and Pass on the Teachings of Jesus and who seek to remain faithful to the scriptures passed on through the generations…the question is…are you ready for persecution?
You would have to be completely spiritually blind not to see that the water of the proverbial frog in the container is indeed heating up to almost boiling point…
The foundations of faith and the notion of what is right and wrong and acceptable in society have eroded over the past 50+ years…and what’s even worse…those same foundations have been eroded amongst those who define themselves as Church…
In an environment that increasingly tolerates anything apart from faithful obedience to the teachings of Jesus both inside and outside the church…it’s absolutely necessary that those who want to continue to ‘hear and do’ (Truth+Dare) the things Jesus says prepare now for persecution…as it is coming and is indeed on the horizon…
Because Jesus actively modelled and taught his disciples about persecution and how to handle it and so did the early church (for example Matt 10:13-42)
LEVELS OF PERSECUTION
I’ve been on this Path of Pioneer Mission for almost 15 years…and have experienced my fair share of persecution…often due to my own stupidity…but also for simply practicing Truth+Dare with Jesus’ instructions…
Throughout the years of training in persecution these are some of the patterns I’ve seen or reflected upon…
Although not usually defined as persecution…when we ‘hear the voice’ of God through His Word or Spirit we have an opportunity to obey- putting into practice what He says…as we begin to move towards this there is often a barrage of internal opposition that comes.
Jesus talks about this in his most central parable…he says ‘If you don’t understand this parable…you won’t understand any’
When the Word of God comes, we typically respond in one of 4 ways…
Of these, one relates to ‘hardship’ coming because of the word. Our internal battle then seems to be related to fears…
One of the fears that I experienced a lot in the past…and the one that I see most evident amongst ‘christians’ I meet and have been involved in training is ‘The Fear of Man‘ (the fear of upsetting people, wanting to please people and thinking about what people will think or what their reactions might be to something you sense God saying to do- ‘what will people think If I do that‘)
Another response has much to do with distractions, some of which relate to the next level of persecution…but the internal side is that, although I have heard God speak, I’m not wholehearted in putting into practice what He has said because I desire other things…
The internal battle is really a set of temptations or inward desires that draw us away from obedience. It feels too hard to obey…either because things get hard as a result of the Word or because things get easy- it becomes easier to do other things that feel more ‘desirable’…
Most of us do not progress to the next level of persecution…because on most ocassions we don’t get past this first internal level of ‘desires that war against our souls’
I’ve experienced this many times…for example…you hear God speak to you to invite your work-colleagues to the pub for Beer+Bibles (a conversation about the teachings of Jesus over a pint of lager)…however on the day that you are due to do this….your car breaks down, your washing machine floods your kitchen and someone hacks into your bank account…(OK….maybe not all of these at once…unless you are pioneering at another level!)
The reaction of most people I’ve met is…
a. They don’t even recognize the connection. The response is more of a; ‘I Can’t go to the pub tonight because I’m having to sort out the car’
It’s only when you persistently attempt in subsequent weeks to obey God and meet your colleagues in the pub to make disciples that you notice that something circumstantial happens every week that has the result in preventing either you or them from meeting up
b. The next reaction is- ‘This all seems like hard work…maybe it’s not to be. It was a good idea but it’s simply not working.’
This is what I refer to as ‘religious amnesia’– or the Bible refers to as ‘did God really say?’
But usually it’s more subtle than that…there is no real reflection on any of the proceedings…it’s just a set of circumstances after all, right?
c. Another response is that ‘It is indeed circumstances that are making things very difficult….but God understands and is loving…so he will understand why I’ve not been able to get to the pub’
This is a very clever response because it is full of half-truths. The problem is…if we use this response every time we allow circumstances to prevent us from obeying something God has told us to do…we will never obey. The circumstances will just keep on rolling in, right?
I’ve known people who have let 20 years or more of circumstances prevent them from obeying clear directives from God!
‘Today…if you hear God’s Voice…do not harden your heart’
If you pass this level…you may experience the next level of opposition that comes as a result of obeying the word….
Jesus said that when you go to announce and practice the Kingdom of God members of your own household (oikos) will turn against you (Matt 10) Unfortunately I’ve witnessed this on many ocassions….and perhaps you have to?
This can also be very subtle and can happen like this…
You’ve heard God say something to you and as you begin to put it into practice…arguments or fights increase in your own household. Your husband or wife suddenly has ‘a go at you out of the blue…’
Or your children’s bickering increases or one of your kids has an unusual temper tantrum…
Or it can be not so subtle (like the kind of things that happened in John Wesley’s marriage)
If the enemy cannot get a household to divide against itself, he sometimes resorts to actually attacking members of the household…there are many stories from missionary biographies that provide examples of this happening and how they responded…check them out!
4. False Brothers
Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul experienced this one. Jesus had his Judas…Paul said he was ‘in danger from false brothers‘…these are people who ‘pretend to be your friend‘ but have ulterior motives. Paul also talked about those who preached the gospel with ulterior motives but ultimately it didn’t really matter as long as Christ was preached. However it does cause considerable pain to the person on the receiving end of this disingenuine relationship. You pour yourself into someone and they abuse your trust. Neither Jesus or Paul could get away from this…Jesus even ‘knew’ who would betray him and that one of them ‘had a demon.’ Paul said to one church he had ‘birthed’ that the more he loved them the less they seemed to love him.
Often this arises from mismatched expectations, sometimes through selfish ambition and bitter envy…a desiring after different things. Different agendas that are under the surface. Sometimes it happens from those who want the glory but are not willing to embrace the suffering and hardship.
Perhaps the term ‘fair weather friends‘ also fits this category…they want to ‘be seen’ with you when everything looks good on the surface…and are even willing to take the credit for that…but as soon as things get hard they scatter…
‘Hirelings’ is another term that might fit this category…
I’ve had my fair share of ‘false brothers’ and it is very painful!
The Apostle Paul had many friends and co-workers who actually deserted him towards the end of his life and work
He describes one of them as one who ‘Deserted, because he Loved this World’
5. Religious Mafia
We have many examples of this in the stories of Jesus in the gospels…the reference is often to Pharisees and Sadducees…Jesus and his disciples would do things differently to the established religion of the day and they would turn up at the places Jesus and co were doing their stuff and try to find ways to catch them out…
The Apostle Paul also had a lot of trouble in this regard. He talks of those who ‘try to spy on our freedom‘ and ‘try to force us to come under their religious bondage’
John the Baptist had this in the form of the question ‘Who Gave You Authority to Do What You are Doing?’
I’ve had this many times over the years…it comes in various guises…but the undercurrent and tone is unmistakable
‘What Church Do You Go To?’
‘Whose Covering Are You Under?’
‘Are You Licensed by the Bishop?’
‘Who Are You Accountable To?’
‘That’s Not A Real Church’
‘Why Are You Hanging Around With Those People’
A common strategy is to be called into meetings and bureaucracy…the enemy tries to use this to slow down the work you are engaged in order to control it…it’s what I would call the ‘Nehemiah Effect’
The hidden driving force of the Religious Mafia is usually a spirit of jealousy…
However…the people involved are not usually aware that they are acting out of jealously…and even if they are aware, they usually never admit it
Jesus responded in different ways to this level of opposition…for example, at times he withdrew, at times he remained silent under insult, and at times he prophetically confronted those who were opposing the Spirit
Ultimately we do not fight against people, but against the unseen forces that are actively trying to resist the Kingdom of God which advances through those who hear and obey the King
So what do you do when you are putting into practice something that Jesus has whispered in your ear and there is clear evidence of Godly ‘fruit’ as a result…and then ‘religious’ friends or leaders come and tell you to stop what you are doing?
6. The Authorities
It’s usually only when you pass the first 5 levels that you begin to experience opposition from ‘The Authorities’ (or maybe ‘The Establishment’)
After spending the past 7 years systematically traveling across Britain and Ireland and more recently across Europe…I’ve found almost no-one who has experienced persecution at the hands of the authorities…
This is telling…
In the past people like St Patrick, William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, John Knox, George Fox, John Wesley, William Booth and many more…ALL suffered through the hands of the authorities (I have much more to say on this but we can’t handle it right now)
Is it possible that in Europe we don’t actually want to be persecuted?
Therefore we do the logical thing…we avoid preaching in public, we water down the gospel so that no one is offended…and then we preach to other Christians telling them they should do the same?! (see Galatians 5:11 and 6:12)
But as long as we are all sitting comfortably, right?
When we do what Jesus, the apostles, the early church, movement leaders and their disciples and the persecuted church around the world does when faced with opposition from ‘The Authorities’ who order us to do the opposite of what Jesus says or face the consequences…we are ready for the Level of Persecution we are yet to see in Europe or the West in our lifetime
When the apostles were threatened by the authorities with; ‘Don’t talk or Spread this message of Jesus in Public or Else’
They Responded with ‘Judge for Yourselves wether it’s right to Obey You or Obey God’
Then they gathered their radical community of apprentices of Jesus and brought their threats to God, prayed for more power and boldness then went back out into the public square to do the very thing the authorities had warned them not to do
I haven’t experienced The Level of Persecution that those who have gone before me have experienced…or what my brothers and sisters are suffering for the sake of the gospel around the world…those who have been tortured, put in prison or killed as a result of their faith (obedience)
but I have been beaten up in the street on a few ocassions, threatened with physical violence on more ocassions than I can number, had my car tampered with and tyres slashed, had windows of my house smashed and break-in’s, property stolen and even had to be escorted out of one town in the middle of the night by a police van…This ALL Happened In Europe!
It has come as a result of obedience to God, progressing through the Levels of Persecution and continuing to obey and preach the gospel…in all these things God was my only comfort and I’ve experienced a joy that doesn’t come as a result of ‘human pleasures’ or ‘comforts’
But in Europe and The West, most of us ‘followers of Jesus’ don’t even make it passed Levels 1-3 so we haven’t even experienced Levels 4-6…and if we have, we haven’t yet ‘passed’ those levels
Time to Level-Up as The Wave of Persecution Approaches
These are the Levels of Persecution that I’ve experienced to a degree and reflected upon over the years. In most games that show an ordinary hero on an epic quest; there are obstacles to overcome, enemies to defeat and end of level ‘baddies’ to conquer. We can progress to the next level once we’ve picked up the skills and experience at each stage and the necessary ‘weapon’s’ needed to overcome
There are of course ‘Cheats‘ to all of these levels (ways of overcoming quicker)…We can get revelation from the Word and Spirit on what to do at each Level of Persecution (that’s how I have progressed in the game so far). We can also progress faster by learning from those who have already ‘Passed the Level’ that we are still stuck on…
Hopefully when God gives me the time I will write more blog posts on ‘The Cheats’ that help us to face each Level of Persecution (the positive responses to each level of opposition faced both internal and external). But in the meantime you can get Trained in Persecution or Pioneer Mission.
Buy our book Pioneer Mission as a warm-up
Maybe you’re thinking ‘This Game Isn’t For Me’…
‘ALL who want to live a Godly Life in Christ Jesus WILL be Persecuted’ (2 Tim 3:12)
Want to Live a Godly Life? Guess What…?
Choose it Or Not…Persecution is Almost Upon Us…
The Wave Is Coming…
Are Your Ready?
Are You Persecution Proof?
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