Q & A: Persecution

Question:

It seems to me that for a couple of years the following question has come to my mind: It is as if a gentle voice was asking me if I was ready to suffer, even to die, for the Lord. It comes from time-to-time, not in an agressive but rather gentle way, as if to challenge me or prepare me maybe. First I was scared, but the more I grow with Him the less I’m scared. Yet, I still have a way to go to walk in complete peace … Have you ever received such interrogation, is it my own imagination or could it come from the Lord?

Response:

In my opinion, the situation as described is the result of the Lord indeed speaking to you because of the manner in which you describe (gentle, not pushy, which is characteristic of the Holy Spirit). While no one can be sure how exactly we will die, I don’t personally think the Lord’s objective is to indicate that you will necessarily have to give up your physical life, but rather that you should be *willing* to give up your physical life.

There is a difference. Where there is a willingness to give up your physical life (if need be), you will be less restrained in your service to God, you will be less prone to withhold from the Lord what is rightfully due to him — your complete, undivided, service, without fear of what will become of you.

In this regard, I am reminded of Jesus’s words in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” What is Jesus saying here? He is saying that we are to be 100% committed to God. Do not let the fear of dying get in the way.

I suspect, by what you have shared with me, that you are possibly ‘withholding’ some service to God, for fear of dying physically. I would suspect that this is what God is getting at.

May I also encourage you by saying that when we are 100% committed to God, and do not allow fear to get in the way, that, in the end, when it does come time to die, that God will bring about what is best for us, and — because we are really committed to him — it will all go ‘smoothly’, as it were.

I am reminded of Stephen, who was well prepared to handle death, on account of his committment to God. I am also reminded of Paul, who said, “… for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13) Certainly, Paul would not have been able to serve the Lord fully had he not been willing to die. We would never have the New Testament we have today.

What was Paul’s secret to his being willing to die for the Lord in this respect? I think it is summed up best by his quote from 1 Corinthians 15:31, where he says, “I die daily.” We must therefore ‘give up’ our fleshly desires on a daily basis. While it is important to ‘make the break’ and decide to serve the Lord once and for all, yet we glean from this passage that this is not necessarily a ‘one time act’ but must be done in our hearts on a regular basis.

May the Lord bless you as you consider these things today.