What is certain, but not being preached from many pulpits today, is that persecution is coming. Why pastors are not preparing their flocks for the coming trouble is beyond me. I listen to sermons from various churches constantly as I seek to learn and understand more about God and His Word. What I’m not hearing from most pulpits (thankfully, there are a few exceptions) is an urgency to repent and prepare for what is coming.
There is no talk of how to prepare for persecution, and resources on the topic seem scarce. But Jesus told us the world will persecute us because of His name (John 15:20-21; Matthew 24:9). Because most of us live in places where persecution has not been a reality in our lives, we’ve become lazy, blind to the signs of this age (Matthew 24:3-31), and so comfortable in this world that we are ill-prepared for the coming persecution.
While there is wisdom in preparing for the physical ramifications of persecution, far more important is preparing spiritually. Evil men can and will destroy our physical bodies because of what we believe about Jesus Christ, but they cannot harm our souls (Matthew 10:28). Those are safe in the everlasting and loving arms of our Lord. But if we aren’t prepared spiritually for what’s coming, we may be tempted to lose heart and deny our Savior and King when the pain and trials become severe.
So, how do we prepare for persecution? Let me give you some brief comments which I’ll expand on in future posts. As a starting point, let’s look at 1 Peter 5:8-10. In these verses, Peter gives us a blueprint for how to prepare for persecution. He tells us we must be sober-minded and alert. Now is not the time to fill our lives with folly or our minds with false teaching. We must be serious about our faith and careful in our discernment.
Next, Peter tells us to resist the devil. We’ve become too comfortable in this world and all Satan offers us in it. If we expect to stand up to persecution, we cannot approach it as weak-minded individuals with flimsy faith. We must put aside all hypocrisy and malice (1 Peter 2:1), and live holy lives pleasing to God. Peter explains we must also remember we are not alone in this fight. Generations have come before us who have withstood the battle, held fast to their faith, and received their reward in Heaven.
Finally, trust in God’s grace and restoration. These afflictions are temporary and the pain pales compared to the victory and life that awaits all those who hold fast to their faith. Dark days are looming and already men have exchanged truth for lies (Romans 1:21-25), refusing to accept anything except that which pleases them (2 Timothy 4:3). To prepare for persecution, be sober-minded and alert. Resist the devil and stand firm in your faith. Remember, you are never alone and a great cloud of witnesses is surrounding you (Hebrews 11:1-12:1). Trust in the grace of God and in his ability to restore everything to perfection. In the days ahead, I will expand on preparing for persecution in some more practical ways, but we must begin now to prepare for the persecution that will come. It is coming, and we must be ready.