But you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance, along with the persecutions and sufferings that came to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from them all. In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:10-12
“Allow me to become food for the wild beast, through whose instrumentality it will be granted to me to get to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground up by the teeth of wild beast, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ…” – Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, 117AD
Persecution is inevitable for the Church. The writers of the New Testament unanimously agree about the very real prospect of persecution. Even Jesus candidly revealed the impeding persecution his disciples would face after He was gone. Scripture seems emphatic that persecution is a norm for the Christian, not an exception. These verses do not deviate from the theme of persecution that seems to saturate the pages of the New Testament. Paul does not paint an endearing or romanticized view of persecution. Instead he employs memories of his own persecutions to draw Timothy’s distracted eyes back to the centralizing Truth of the Gospel that is worth any sacrifice. Paul put to use a similar approach that the risen Savior used to encourage and refocus his disciples after His death. Jesus appeared to a group of frightened and doubting disciples and encouraged them by showing them the holes in his hands, feet, and side. Through this, Jesus was encouraging his disciples, showing
them that following Him will be difficult, but the Truth of the Gospel is worth every bit of sacrifice and His scars prove this to be true.The blood that stains the pages of Scripture and Church history is proof that we possess something priceless… Something worth more than the very breath in our lungs. The quote which began this devotional was penned by Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, as he was in transit to his impeding execution in Rome for failing to honor the emperor. May we be encouraged by the example of men and women like Ignatius who have carried the cross of persecution for our sake. For it is through their willingness to persevere through persecution that we now have the Truth.
Challenge: May we be encouraged in our faith by looking upon the wounds of our Savior and the saints that followed in His footsteps. May we be reminded that the Gospel we now possess has come to us at a great price. And may we also remember that we too may face fierce persecution.
Note: Today’s devotional was written by guest writer Jonathan Moore.