As we embark on a new year, we have the opportunity to devote it to Christ. With our culture eroding at an ever-increasing pace, it feels like it is more important than ever to surrender everything to Jesus and to grow deeper in our faith. The Western Church has long been isolated from the persecution so many of our brothers and sisters around the world encounter every day.
Until now, at least from outward appearances, we’ve been allowed to survive and even thrive despite the prevailing winds of the culture. Without wanting to sound like an alarmist, I am convinced those days will end, and much sooner than any of us ever thought possible.
We don’t need to be afraid of the coming persecution, but we need to prepare for it. Many who are Christians in name only will fall away from the faith when the pressure comes. It should come as no surprise, because Jesus told us this would happen (Matthew 24:9-13). The way we prepare for persecution is to draw ever closer to God. We can’t hold anything back in our surrender to Him. It will be important to memorize as much Scripture as possible, so you can recall it for your comfort and to bring light to those who don’t know Christ.
Every Christian knows they need to spend time in prayer and Bible study, but so few do it with any depth or consistency. Morning quiet times are great, but do you not find it strange we give such a small part of our day to the One who means the most to us? Meanwhile, we give away most of our time and attention to things that won’t last and are not deserving of our affection. What if we flipped the script and spent the majority of our days with Christ and gave any leftover time to the pursuits of this world? Because of the lifestyles we have created for ourselves, it seems a daunting task to do something so radical. But that doesn’t make it impossible, it just means we’re unwilling.
I doubt any of us are going to spend eight hours a day with God, but isn’t that tragic? We’ve become so adapted to our culture that its trappings keep us from spending most of our time with our Lord and Savior. So, let’s be more realistic. Can we at least give Him a couple of hours? If we don’t spend the time obsessed with God now, what makes us think we will stand firm when we are told we may no longer worship together or even own a Bible? We must focus on growing deeper while we still can.
I hope we never see the day when we face restrictions in our freedom to worship Jesus. But so many already live in this reality. Our desire for comfort and security over devotion to Jesus would sicken them. We’ve gotten away with a casual Christianity for decades, and there will be an accounting for it. If that accounting does not come in this life, it will when we meet Jesus. Growing deeper in Christ is the responsibility of every true disciple. Don’t wait until it’s too late to begin. Make this year the year you get very serious about your relationship with Jesus. Focus on growing deeper. Be prepared and stand firm. For this, your Father in Heaven will reward you.