Suffering for the Sake of the Gospel

Generally, we hear 1 Peter 4:12-13 preached to counter the harsh talk that our resident “man of God” receives in the barber shop or beauty parlor. Never mind that fact that our resident “man of God” may exploit the Gospel message for personal gain, twist scripture to justify his unholy lifestyle, or just flat out misrepresent the true Kingdom of God – he feels as though he’s being “persecuted”, so he encourages us to defend him and to prepare to receive the same “persecution” that he receives.

Usually, after he reminds us to “touch not my anointed” (another text generally quoted out of context – but that discussion is for another time), he reminds us that Peter told us that we shouldn’t be surprised when we suffer (like Christ) because of the Gospel.

The reality is that most of our leaders in the Body of Christ get called on the carpet because of their duplicitous lifestyles – period. Sure, the Gospel suffers, but it’s an unintended consequence. Are there naysayer’s out there that seek to bad mouth God, His leaders, and His Word? Absolutely. But we give the naysayer’s ammunition when we (and our leaders) fail to yield to the Holy Spirit COMPLETELY, so we can’t be surprised when it comes back to bite us.

That was my introduction – here’s the point. My friends over at A Little Leaven highlight what really happens when you attempt to spread the Gospel into the outermost parts of the world (as we were commanded to do).

While we’re feeling persecution because we have to wait in traffic to get in and out of our colossal and impressive “worship centers”:  

 

“Pastor” Joel Osteen preaches a candy coated “gospel” that turns Jesus into your personal genie and life coach. So, from time to time, we’re going to ask “Pastor Osteen” …what about those Christians who are suffering persecution and death because of their belief in the Biblical gospel. Should we assume that these people are suffering persecution needlessly since Osteen believes they should be able to experience their ‘best lives now’? Today we are featuring Pastor Zaur Balaev.

Location: Azerbaijan    Arrested: May 2007

On May 20, 2007, Pastor Zaur Balaev was arrested for “conducting an illegal religious meeting” in his home village in Aliabad, Azerbaijan. In August, he was sentenced to two years in prison under Article 315, Part 1, for allegedly violently resisting the police during a raid. The authorities first claimed that Pastor Balaev released a dog on police, but have since claimed he attacked five policemen and damaged a car door. During the trial, some witnesses reported that police had pressured them into testifying against Pastor Balaev.We thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for men like Pastor Zaur Balaev for their bravery and willingness to forego their ‘best lives now’ so that they can share the true Biblical gospel in countries where being a Christian guarantees persecution, suffering and even martyrdom.

 

 

I’ll end with with Peter’s own words:

“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you”. (1 Peter 4:14)

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