There are few verses in the Bible that cause me more problems than 2 Timothy 3:12.

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..."

It's not that it's difficult to understand. It's very clear. And that's the problem.

Paul is contrasting his life with the false teachers of his day. He's reminding Timothy of the ways that he has suffered as he has faithfully made Jesus known. Ways which he says will be entirely normal for the Christian.

My problem is that I know that there are people all over the world today being persecuted for following Christ. I know that there are many people in this country who have suffered rejection from their families, been sidelined at work or lost significant friendships, because their first allegiance is to Jesus. And I admire them. I'll pray for them. I'll give money to organisations who support them. I just don't want to be one of them.

I like the quiet life. The life of comfort. The life where people admire me for my "faith" even if they don't share it. The life of being an upstanding member of the community. 

The thing is "the community" killed Jesus.

Jesus himself said to his followers, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)

If you follow the one hated by the world, then the world will hate you also.

Now while I don't want to suggest that we should go looking for persecution. Nor do I want absolve Christians from the responsibility of bringing grief upon themselves from time to time, by being insensitive towards people they claim to be trying to win over. I do think that we need to ask ourselves a question based on Paul's and Jesus' words:

"If all my non-Christian friends, family and colleagues think I am totally normal and don't give me any grief, am I living a godly life? Or do I perhaps belong a little too much to the world?"

 

 

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