Please tell me it’s not true
Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:12
18 If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.
19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.
20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.
21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.
What is a promise?
A promise is a commitment by someone to do or not do something. As a noun promise means a declaration assuring that one will or will not do something. As a verb, it means to commit oneself by a promise to do or give.
The great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh got it right when he said, “Promise me you’ll always remember you’re braver than you believe, you are stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
There are some promises, however, that we wish were not true and would never be kept. Several of them are found in the Scriptures. The Lord Jesus Christ promised that all those that follow Him and desire to live godly lives will be persecuted.
2 Timothy 3:12 Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
Please tell me it’s not true. But indeed it is true. The Lord Jesus Christ made children of the King a promise that if we choose to do the right thing, we will suffer for it. “This is one of those promises of God that we’d really rather do without. God tells us this, not to discourage us, but to prepare us for the inevitable so that we can shine for Him when the time comes” (Stanley).
Suffering persecution is superficially regrettable. Yet at the same time, it is delightfully advantageous.
Who would want to suffer hardship? Who would volunteer to do it? Upon reflection, we realize that it happens every day to those we know and sometimes even us. A parent gladly risks everything to save the life of their child. Some decide to become a long-distance runners expecting nothing but grueling hours of hard work, aches, pains, and loneliness. Yet many do it. Others undergo rigorous, painful, training to “make the team” to be all that they can be. Throughout the millennia soldiers have signed up to defend their flag, their tribe, their city, their nation, their home. They gladly, heroically suffer tremendous loss.
What is the common denominator of all these things? It is self-sacrifice for a higher cause, to achieve a higher goal, to defend and protect what is the greatest value.
Paul understood these things through virtue of his close relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, personal sacrifice for the Father and the Son took on new meaning and significance.
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
9 and become one with him. . ..
10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,
11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
Paul gave up everything that he had valued the most. To what end? To gain what he had now come to value most. What was so important to Paul that he chose such a remarkable paradigm shift?
Paul’s goal, his singular focus, and drive centered on one thing, “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” He was not interested in head knowledge, that is, additional information. Rather Paul wanted to know the Lord Jesus Christ personally and relationally. He sought a personal experience and an intimate relationship.
The Greek verb translated know is ginosko. Ginosko refers to personal knowledge, not intellectual knowledge, the knowledge of certain facts or even principles. It primarily encompasses the personal experience of another person. He doesn’t want to know about Christ, he wants to know Christ, the resurrected, living Christ. He longs for a deeper personal relationship with Him.
He wanted to gain Christ and become one with Him. He wanted to know the Lord Jesus Christ and experience the power of His resurrection. But then comes the twist that seems so strange and even bizarre. He wanted to share His sufferings, that is suffer with Him. Beyond sharing his suffering, Paul would partake in sharing His resurrection from the dead. More on that another time.
REFLECT & PRAY
It is through suffering and dying to ourselves that we come to know the Lord Jesus Christ intimately. We experience oneness with Him. When we share His sufferings, we share His life, power, and resurrection.
Father how often do I struggle with suffering and become filled with self-doubt? Father help me to understand the struggle and to realize that I must become low in order to become high, and I must become weak in order to become strong.
How many children of the King struggle to find meaning and purpose for themselves in this fallen, dark, and confused world. Paul discovered a secret, a seemingly incongruous antinomy. He learned this marvelous mystery from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through death, that we truly live.
8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names.
The Lord Jesus Christ became low so that He might become high. He humbled himself so that He might be honored. He suffered a cruel death so that he might be raised to newness of life and be given the name above all other names.
Paul dedicated his life to and sought after, knowing the Lord Jesus Christ intimately. Any child of the King and follow his example and seek to know Him intimately. All we have to do is choose to pursue Him.
How do we get there from here? By spending time in the word of God and getting to know the Father and the Son. “The Word of God, living and growing within us, produces lasting and increasing joy. A lack of joy in a Christian’s life often can be traced to a lack of concentrated devotional time in God’s Word” (Stanley).