"In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
2 Timothy 3:12 (CSB)
These are not too comforting of words that we read from Paul to Timothy. We Christians in America do not truly understand these words. In fact we often reject them. We think we should not suffer persecution. "That type of stuff happens in foreign lands and to other types of people. If they do happen to Christians then those Christians must have done something to warrant the persecution," we erroneously say.
Most Christians that I know believe that it is wrong for Christians to suffer any type of persecution. "That is not the way it is supposed to be," they say. We have a wonderful message and it should be received with joy and open arms by all who hear it. We are correct in saying that the message is wonderful and should be received by everyone, but is this idea biblical?
Not according to the above verse. "... all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Three things pop out to me from this verse; all, godly life in Christ, and will be.
First I must share that Paul is not writing a new thought or belief to Timothy. He is in fact sharing the teaching of Jesus within this verse. Jesus did not hide from his disciples the fact of persecution. He openly shared what would take place to them for following him. In Matthew 10 and John 15 we see this and we will go into more with those scriptures at a later time. For now let's just focus on Paul's words to Timothy.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the word, "all." All is a very inclusive word. It does not mean some or a few but all; everyone; every single person that wants to live a godly life in Jesus. Now this doesn't say every person in the world will suffer persecution. It is limited to those who want to be like Jesus, and of those in that group, all will be persecuted.
The second thing that jumped out was the words "godly life in Christ Jesus." All those who want a godly life in Christ Jesus means that these people don't just want the name of Christ to be theirs but they want to live a life that glorifies God just like Jesus. This doesn't mean simply wanting to have a good life but a life that fulfills its purpose. A godly life is a different life; not like the world around us. It reflects God's glory through all that we do. Our desires are not for the things that we want but we seek God's desires and what God wants.
A life like this is very different from the culture in which we live. We live opposite the culture of the world. We don't seek to be different just to be different but we are different because of the change that God has worked in us through his grace in Jesus Christ.
The third and last thing that jumped out at me was the words "will be." These words show that this is definitely going to happen. It is certain to happen. We are guaranteed for this to take place. It is a matter of when it will happen and not if it will happen.
So, this verse can be a very convicting. If it says, "all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" and we are not, nor have been, persecuted, then what are we doing wrong? Do we not truly wanting a godly life in Christ? Do we live too much like the world that people can't see a difference in us? Is there no reason for them to persecute us for Christ's name because we are not seen as a threat to the status quo?
I am not saying that we go around looking for things to pick a fight with the world about, but I am saying that I believe if we live like Jesus and his standards, then the world will not want us around. They will want to silence us and even take us out of the picture. I believe we have been deceived to think that persecution for the Christian is a terrible thing and something to avoid at all cost. To understand this we must look at Jesus' words in Matthew 10 and John 15. That is our task next time. Until then, may the Lord use this verse above to strengthen and convict us to seek a godly life in Christ no matter what may come!