There are many pressures in today’s world to force Christians to conform to the darkness in the earth. It is very strong and more forceful in these last days leading to greater persecutions. We have warnings in the word of God that this would happen and this is where we are. China and other nations have experienced this for years and they have more praying Christians than any other nation. China has grown to over 100 million Christians and is still growing. Why would so many in that nation want God? The evil structures that rule over them in their government is increasing their need for a savior. I see an awakening happening of needing God here in the US and for that I am thankful. More of that is coming in the days ahead. Jesus will help us through any and all tribulation we go through because He said He would. He never promised we would avoid tribulations, just that He had already over-come them so for us to be of good cheer. I wouldn’t say the cheer part is something we have mastered, but we have our hope in Jesus.
Persecution and pressure always follow when you don’t conform to this world. Rom.12:1,2 (AMP) pleads with us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies (dedicating all of yourselves, set apart) as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world (any longer with its superficial values and cus-toms), but be transformed and progressively changed (as you mature spiritually) by the renewing of your mind (focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes), so that you may prove (for yourselves) what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (in His plan and purpose for you).” To conform means to pattern after, to be shaped by or to be pressed into a mold. Have you ever felt pressed to conform to those around you at work or school? Several years ago, when Dan worked as an associate at a church there was a pressing on us to conform to abusive leadership ways. When we would not become like them, we were lied about, betrayed by friends, cursed and persecuted and all of this by Christians. Eventually after much abuse Dan was fired – we were cast out and lost many relationships. The pain was intense and we did not understand how the Lord could let this happen to us. In time we realized it was the greatest blessing of our lives. It caused us to begin to see that God was molding us into His image instead of being molded by a religious system.
When we choose to live according to the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be hated and persecuted because of our values and beliefs. In today’s world people are hated just for having different values than another, different skin tones, different ways of living life. Don’t conform to that hate! We are not filled with hate for those that don’t think like we do. It does not matter if society’s rules say, you have to believe like I do or you are unloving. That is a lie. We love because Jesus loved us while we were still living in sin and apart from Him. The world does not know true love so we don’t follow their narrative. That is just another way the enemy gets us to conform to the world’s system. Jesus taught us in John 15:17-20 (TPT) “Jesus said, ‘This is my parting command; Love one another deeply! Just remember, when the unbelieving world hates you, they first hated me. If you were to give your allegiance to the world, they would love and welcome you as one of their own. But because you won’t align yourself with the values of this world, they will hate you. I have chosen you and taken you out of the world to be mine. So remember what I taught you, that a servant isn’t superior to his master. And since they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.’”
If you make your daily life all about you, you will not stick to the gospel of Jesus Christ. My story of being persecuted is very minor compared to the persecution Christians face in this world. I am amazed at the courage of those that are being killed for the cause of Christ. They could conform very easily, but their devotion to the Lord is very real. Our devotion will be tested in these last days. Go towards His love, worship at a deeper place, give your devotion to Him are the top priorities in the days ahead. When we were cast out of that church, my devotion was more to my-self and how God needed to come through for us. God was after our hearts in a deeper way. When we grow in our devotion to the Lord, that is when we can love our enemies. The pressure of persecution won’t be easy, but this is when the transformation begins taking place that Paul talks about. The word trans-form comes from the Greek word translated as metamorphosis. Meta - change after being with and morphousthe - changing form in keeping with an inner reality. In being with God, offering ourselves to Him, our minds become renewed. We become conformed to His image, thinking like Him, responding like God. As we live with our minds renewed daily, we have clarity as to what God’s will is. Darkness may try to blind us to God’s will and His ways, but the transformation happens and we can see and hear above all the clamor. We can discern the ways of God to maneuver through all the lies and assaults that surround us. We begin seeing the Kingdom of God every moment of our day. The apostles went before us showing us how to live from a higher place of love and devotion. Acts 17:28 says, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” When we live life making it about ourselves, we will fal-ter. We have our being in Him so we will stay strong in the Lord and the power of His might!
Let this encourage you today. Paul promises us in Rom. 5:3,4 (TPT), “Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope.” This tells me that God loves us so much that He is going to use every bit of pressure we are under, every ounce of trouble we encounter to become more excellent – to become like Him! Now for those that are devoted to the Lord it brings great excitement! Those that are not there yet, you will get there. God will show you His ways and His love for you in the days ahead.
My prayer for us: “Father God, we are not ashamed to say we need you. Our families need you; our country needs you. The pressures have been great, but we know where sin and darkness abound, your grace does much more abound! Give us more boldness to press into your miracle-working power in the days ahead. Put us on display with and in your love and miracles. Cause us to be the salt and light of this world to those without hope. The hope of glory lives in us and we declare that we will be marked with your love and glory in the days ahead. We ask that you help those in this world that are en-during great persecutions. We thank you that you are trans-forming us to be heaven walking in the earth realm. We place our devotion in you as we come back to our first love. In Jesus’ name we pray.”