About Jesus Steve Sweetman
told His disciples that if the world hated them, they should understand
that it hated Him first. (John 15:18)
The apostle Paul told Timothy that "all who live godly in
Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution". (2 Timothy 3:12)
The expectation of the early believers, which was preached along
with the gospel, was that they would suffer for their decision to align
themselves with the Lord Jesus. Their
allegiance to a Lord other than lord Caesar was more than politically,
religiously, and culturally unacceptable.
It was criminal.
often thought about why Christians in the western world haven't
experienced persecution as Jesus and Paul stated.
Of course many disciples of Jesus are being persecuted in other
parts of the world right now, but for Christians in the west, well,
we've escaped such troubles.
reason for the lack of persecution towards Christians in the west is
because western civilization has been greatly influenced by Biblical
thought, especially since the Christian Reformation and subsequent
revival movements. In many
instances societal standards for life and morality have been based on
the Bible. That's no longer
the case, as the apostle Paul predicted. (2 Thessalonians 2:4) Hence
the reason for the rough road to be walked for the western Christian.
and Paul's words are now becoming relevant for those of us in the west
who have aligned ourselves with the
this point Hebrews 12:1 - 2 is more important than ever.
The NIV reads, "… let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us. Let
us fix our eyes on Jesus …" The
KJV reads, "… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that
does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is
set before us. Looking unto
to this passage, there are two things we as Christians need to
"throw off". The
first and obvious one is sin. The
other is not so obvious for us in the west.
It is "everything that hinders", (NIV) or,
"weight" (KJV). The
Greek word "ogkos" is translated as "everything that
hinders" in the NIV and "weight" in the KJV.
"Ogkos" means "a mass of something, or, a
bulkiness". When I hear the word "mass", as in this
definition, I think of cancer. Cancer
is a growing mass that weakens and eventually destroys the body.
"Ogkos" is a weight, a mass of anything, that hinders us from
doing God's will. Like
cancer, it eats away at our faith, causing us not to be the disciples of
Jesus we are meant to be.
are many things in the western world that are cancerous, that attempt to
destroy our faith in Jesus, that hinders us from doing God's will and
representing Him properly. They
range from a preoccupation with self and materialism, unnecessary
busyness, cluttered lifestyles, relational problems, to a million other
things. Whatever hinders you
from fulfilling God's purpose in your life, the author of Hebrews says,
"throw it off". Just
"throw it away". Only
then will you successfully run the race Jesus has set for you to run.
And let me add, the race is no longer a friendly jog on a smooth
track as we've been used to.
western world is becoming, or, in some places has already become,
anti-Christian, anti-Christ. Persecution
is on its way for true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ in
what once was a somewhat Jesus friendly environment.
First century Christians chose to serve
the Lord Jesus instead of lord Caesar and his religion of emperor
worship. We have a similar
choice. Serve the Lord Jesus
or "lord state and society" and its religion of tolerance.
Remember what Jesus said. "Seek