An Ounce of Prevention…

“All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.  They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.  I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.  I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.”  John 16:1-4.

In all my years of teaching the Word and testifying to others I have never been so discouraged as when I hear preachers avoid this text by preaching the “good news” instead of the good news of the kingdom.  The church of Jesus seems almost paralyzed by reality for we go to one extreme or another.  Either we have a martyr complex and torture ourselves or we believe in heaven on earth—sans the trials and tribulations.

Faith isn’t faith until it’s tested.  Thoroughly tested.

That means anyone who claims their faith preempts them from suffering has lied to themselves and everyone else, for faith is forged in the fires of adversity and opposition.  Jesus’ warning to the disciples set them on a road of trust through the trials they all faced later that night and for the rest of their lives.  He knew how hard it would be, for the enemy of their souls would send every messenger of discouragement that could be found to knock their foundation out from under them.  He wanted them to stand no matter what so the only way to ensure this was to warn them about what they faced.

Many a man stands afraid but determined in the face of war, calamity or a personal protection issue, but set these same men up in front of peers who ridicule, mock and undermine his intelligence, manhood or stubbornness, and most will crack like thin ice.  And the sole reason is they haven’t put God first; instead they’ve built an idol up of their own image.  We imagine ourselves, and thus believe, to be staunch defenders of moral virtues and godly habits, when much of the time we’re posing for our rat pack/neighborhood.  I know I’m sounding critical but I think it’s necessary for us to take off the rose colored glasses and see things as they are rather than as we prefer them.

Jesus’ first sentence in our text,  “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray” is key to our understanding of why it’s vital we teach tribulation theology in our services.  If we don’t warn people of the opposition they will face, we are guilty of false advertising.  By being “careful” with the more unattractive elements of the gospel, we set our students up to fail when the wind blows real hard.

“But,”  I’ve heard it argued,  “if we tell them all the truth too soon, they will be frightened off!”

True.  But do you want your church weakened by this?  A church not founded on the Rock Christ Jesus is doomed to fail—if not in this age, the age to come—for this teaching is not mine or some martyr based theology we can take or leave but the words of Christ Himself.  We have to warn everyone who comes to Him they will face opposition and then be there to encourage them when it happens—and make no mistake, if they are living out the gospel in its true form, they will face opposition.

Do we trust love based on the feel good moments in our lives with someone?  Is it the love that is expressed in happy moments that stands the test of time or that which goes through the worst life can throw at us?

I think we all know the obvious answer to those two questions.  So why do we think faith is any different?

We in America haven’t face persecution for following Jesus, which means we have a hard time registering what that would look like.  The day is fast approaching, however, when this will be our norm.  Are we ready?  Have we taken this warning to heart and realized that the world hates Jesus in His glorified form and anyone who wants to be like Him?

Consider this a friendly warning, then.


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One Response to “An Ounce of Prevention…”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    This is the heart’s cry of every preacher who sees the lethargy and wonders what will happen when the persecution begins.

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