Few understand the reality of being a Christian. The casual religious person thinks it to be a way for man to escape the monotony of life and join a “club” of socializers and learn about prosperity. Others seek to hear teachings that put them at ease and endorse their casual, carnal state of living. The heathen view Christianity as a “crutch” for man to escape the problems of life, and as they say, “worship an imaginary god.” However, neither are correct.
Being a Christian isn’t about being in a club or worshipping an imaginary god. Being a Christian involves what Jesus clearly stated in John 16: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 KJV). Did Jesus actually say Tribulation? How can a God loving Christian have any sort of tribulation in life? Why would a loving God actually allow such a thing to happen upon an individual? Let’s take a closer look at the Word of God and find our answers.
Tribulation means persecution, affliction, anguish, distress. In many of the modern day churches this isn’t something that is being taught or focused on. The modern day churches dare not speak on such a thing as this type of teaching provokes fear in the individual. The casual church goer and religious person doesn’t want to hear about distress, anguish, and persecution but they’d rather hear about blessings, happiness and prosperity. This type of “christianity” is much more coveted in the churches than hearing about Tribulation. But the fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ spoke clearly and warned us that we “SHALL HAVE” tribulation in this life. Now when I say “We,” I am speaking of those that are truly in the Body of Christ. Those who have believed the Gospel, repented of their sins and been baptized into His Name (Jesus Christ). This exhortation isn’t for the casual christian or the religious person. Those type of individuals will dismiss this teaching and write it off as doomsday fear-mongering. But if that is the case, I consider myself in good company since [according to their definition] Jesus was also a “fear-monger” when he spoke on such topics.
Another part of the definition of Tribulation is that it encloses. This Greek word thlípsis (Tribulation) is a type of closing in. Expanding the definition we see the words – (compress, constrict, pressed together, rub, friction, narrow). I want us to focus on the last word there, narrow. Something that is narrow has little space. The movement is limited. The travel is constricted to the point of rubbing along the sides or friction being created through movement. This narrow way is the Life of the Christian. Jesus said, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14). Contrary to the modern day religious teacher, who teaches that we must fit in with society and be people friendly, we don’t see that within the scriptures. The narrow way goes against the culture’s fads and ideologies. The narrow way creates friction in its surroundings, NOT intentionally but as a consequence of wading through the mire of a wicked culture and swimming upstream against the pressure of conformity.
The majority (heathen) will take notice of those on the narrow path and will add to their Tribulation. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13). When the god of this world (satan) takes notice that there is a soul that is not in line with the majority, he tends to devise ways of friction and pressure. He has plenty help since those on the path of destruction are “many” as the scripture says. So finding souls that will be in line with his goal of restricting the Christian’s ease of travel, is quite readily available.
Now while the Christian life can at times be filled with Joy and blessings, it is also filled with distress and affliction. We mustn’t only focus on the benefits of being a Christian but also on the Cost of being a Christian. Being a true Christian requires a payment. One pays with his life. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1). Living the life of a Christian is living a life of consecration. One separates himself from the world and its way of flow. The world has a language, the world has an attitude, the world has a type of attire. The Christian must recognize this as he strives to enter in the straight gate and narrow path. He must detach himself from the mode of the world and have a transformed mind. There are those who call themselves Christian but I call them religious. They dress like the world, they talk like the world, they act like the world. Yet they call themselves Christians! This is easily detectable as fraud and is pseudo Christianity.
These type of people are conformed to the world and not to Christ. They fear not God and therefore have no changes. They are men who call themselves Christian and have long flowing hair like a woman. The scripture is clear on it being a shame for a man to have long hair. (1 Corinthians 11). They are women who wear revealing, scantly clad clothing and paint their faces like Jezebel. The scripture is against this. (2 Kings 9:30 / 1 Timothy 2:9). They strive to “fit in” with the world so they can be accepted by the world, and get this, AVOID TRIBULATION! That is the end goal, to avoid the COST of being a Christian. They don’t like the affliction, they don’t like the persecution, they can’t deal with the lack of flexibility and expansion of their carnal, evil ways “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.” (Psalm 37:35)
They can’t handle the pressure and the rejection. They fear the thought of being lonely in the world and losing their social status. They trade the Truth of God’s Holy word for social acceptance. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15). The religious person still has a strong devotion to this world and has yet to “die” to it. They are not living a life of consecration nor have they pledged full allegiance to following Christ. They want to live their best life now! (Joel Osteen pamper preaching).
When a Christian becomes surrounded and persecuted by not only the heathen of the world but by fake brethren who mask themselves as ministers of righteousness, then he knows assuredly that he is on the narrow path. The narrow path will not only be enclosed by the heathen of this world but by those in the churches who hate Christ. What do I mean by hate Christ? Just that, they hate Jesus Christ. For if they would love the Lord Jesus Christ they’d obey his commandments.“If you love me, you will keep my commands.” (John 14:15). The one who loves the Lord will endeavor to obey all his commandments. His love towards the Lord is manifest when the religious AND the heathen speak all manner of lies, slander and evil toward him. He is hated by all men for his devout love of the Lord and upholding the Word of God without compromise. He takes solace in this as he understands the prophecy that went before him. “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18). “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake:” (Matthew 10:22)
A Christian will be hated by many.
A Christian will be hated by family members who still love their sin and the ways of the world.
A Christian will be hated by those in false religions who worship false gods.
A Christian will be hated by those who worship three gods (trinitarians) and cunningly lie and say they only worship one god.
A Christian will be hated by those who endorse women pastors.
A Christian will be hated by those who love to dress, act and look like the world.
A Christian will be hated by those who say Repentance isn’t necessary.
A Christian will be hated by those who say baptism isn’t necessary.
A Christian will be hated by those who say that speaking in tongues isn’t for today or it isn’t the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
A Christian will be hated for being on the narrow path and not conforming to ways of the world and the false doctrines of man.
These are just a few of the ways you will be hated for being a Christian on the narrow path. But take heart, for so suffered the Apostles and Prophets before us. So we can take heart that we are in good company! “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12).
So take heart because you are not of the world. You have obeyed or are beginning to obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are obeying his command to Love the brethren that are truly brethren. You are not being slanderous towards your neighbor. You have been or are planning to being baptized into his precious Name. You have been or are seeking to be filled with his Holy Spirit. For this I commend you and I encourage you to continue on the narrow path despite the pressures that are coming against you. The Path shall become more narrow as you get closer to the kingdom of God. But understand that what awaits you will be worth it all. What awaits you is an everlasting crown. What awaits you is an everlasting joy. What awaits you is an everlasting life!
I bid my brethren God speed but to the defectors, Anathema!
In Jesus name.
And let all brethren say,