Written by Lee Green
There were twins living in downtown Chicago by the names of John and Jack. There was something strange about these boys. The difference between them, and everyone else in their school, was that fact that John and Jack were members of the Lord’s Church… they were Christians. However, these boys were different types of Christians. John was very faithful and read the Bible every day. He loved God and did everything that he could to be a faithful child. John was bullied every day for being a Christian, yet, he never stopped just because of what others said to him. John eventually graduated and became a youth minister to help young Christian’s face adversity as he did. On the other hand, Jack was very different. Jack grew tired of being bullied and began to grow weary of who he was, despite the encouragement of his brother. During Junior year, Jack decided to drop out of school and joined those that previously made fun of him. Jack then got involved in drugs and the local gang.
Many teenage Christians face this same problem today. They grow tired of how the world treats them just because they are a faithful follower of Christ. They see their fellow Christians fall away, so, they follow. The reason we lose so many young Christians to the world is because their parents, and the Church in general, fails to understand what teenagers go through and combat what teenage Christians see and hear in the world. What young Christians fail to realize is that they are not the only ones to suffer persecution. There are many today going through the same thing. But, there were also many people in the Bible that endured the same hardships of persecution. The goal of this article is to highlight some of the people that went through similar situations and, most importantly, how God helped them.
Ezekiel was a very interesting prophet. He was commissioned by God to accomplish, what seemed to him, an impossible task. At the time, the people of Israel were still in Babylonian captivity. It was Ezekiel’s job to get the Jews to repent of their sins and convince them that God would free them. But, Ezekiel was afraid of what would happen to him. In Ezekiel 2:3-4, God tells Ezekiel that the Jews are a very stubborn people. However, in verse six, God tells Ezekiel that he should not be afraid, that he will be protected. God goes on to tell Ezekiel how, no matter what, Ezekiel must do the job that God has given him. God basically says that Ezekiel is different and special and that he must not become like the Jews. God also told Ezekiel that he would not be a failure because, in the end, it would be up to the Jews whether they would listen to God. In the same way, young Christians, God has given you the job, just like Ezekiel, to go into the world and preach the gospel. God wants you to be different. He wants you to influence the world, whether your friends want to hear the gospel or not, by being a Christ-like example. Even if they choose to not listen to you, as Ezekiel was afraid the Jews would not listen to him, in the end, it is the choice of the individual. All you can do is spread the gospel and do your best to remain a faithful child of God.
In a similar manner, there may come a day that, when we do preach the gospel to those that want to silence us, they may punish us by sending us to prison. The same thing almost happened to Peter and John in Acts 4: 1-19. These men were threatened with prison, and possibly death, yet, they continued preaching as we are told in Acts 4:13. Both Peter and John were very bold in what they were teaching. The reason is because they loved God and knew that he would protect them from any harm. We see this through the reply of both Peter and John, when they were told to no longer preach the resurrection of Jesus. They replied, in verse 19 and 20, “… Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Peter and John, in unity, were nicely saying it did not matter what any man tried to do, they would not stop preaching the gospel as they were told to do in the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 19). Young Christians, that commission was also commanded to us. No matter what people try to threaten us with, we must not be silenced. We must be like Jeremiah in that, no matter how hard he tried to not preach, he could not contain the words of the Lord without preaching them (Jeremiah 20:9). Friends, we must work for the boldness of Peter and John in knowing that we have no fear to preach the gospel. Peter and John had faith that God would take care of them. Because of their faith, they were not thrown in prison, but allowed to go free. I have no doubt that God intervened because of their faith.
Finally, and most importantly, the greatest person to ever stand up for God and His Word is our wonderful Savior Jesus Christ. In John 18:28-40, Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate. Jesus had the opportunity to deny God and be set free. Yet, even though he knew he would be crucified he was brave enough, and loved us enough, that he was willing to die. Jesus had love for God and His plan for the world. Jesus wanted an opportunity for all to hear and obey the gospel. If Jesus was willing to die for us, why are we so afraid to stand up for Jesus when our friends ridicule us?
Jesus, and many others all through the Bible were willing to stand for God, despite the threats they faced. My friends, we should be the same way. We should be faithful Christians and proclaim the Word of God, no matter what the world may do. We must stay strong and faithful (II Timothy 4: 2-4). I am sure that we all have heard the saying “the only Bible most people will read will be a Christian”. However, if we choose to be like the world, we have failed. If you choose to follow the world, you have looked Jesus in the eye and told Him that his death was worth nothing to you. Do you really want to say that when the Day of Judgement comes? If we choose to be like the world, we are the salt that has lost its flavor and, in the words of Jesus, good for nothing (Matthew 5:13). If you truly love God and are thankful for the sacrifice by Jesus, you will join the many others before you and confess with boldness, that I am a Christian and I will never be ashamed for it. If you boldly confess this, I am proud of you and hope that you remain on that narrow path (Matthew 7:14). However, maybe you are one that realizes you have forsaken God. I will tell you that, as long as you live, it is never too late to become a faithful child of God once again. Always remember that you are never alone. Just as God took care of those in the Bible, he will take care of Christians that love and serve him faithfully (Hebrews 13:5).