Are you timid to live your faith publicly? According to the Family Research Council’s report, hostility toward Christians has risen 76% since 2014. Governmental agencies have suppressed expressions of Christianity and Christians have been maligned, sued, fined, fired, and received death threats for believing in the biblical design of marriage.
On other continents, they are hunted, kidnapped, raped, and murdered. Christian persecution is happening around the globe.
Jesus knew this would happen and preached, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me … because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:10-12).
Christianity starts in our hearts with conviction and purpose, and requires courage when tested. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world … let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14,16).
The book of Daniel reveals situations where this happened.
Daniel, a young captive in a heathen land, had purposed in his heart to live according to his religious convictions and not defile himself with objectionable food and wine. He didn’t riot, sue, or protest, but appealed in a godly way to the authorities. Daniel’s faith and purpose resulted in receiving better health and more knowledge and understanding than everyone else. His light shined.
Before Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he gave the credit to God — the One in heaven who knows all. And the king’s response was, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries” (Daniel 2:47).
When the decree was made to pray only to King Darius, Daniel again purposed in his heart to obey God rather than man. He continued his daily prayers to God and was thrown into a lion’s den. After finding Daniel safe, King Darius issued a decree that “people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. ‘For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions’” (Daniel 6:26-27).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bravely refused to worship the golden idol. Their light shined through their faithfulness in obeying God and their declaration of His ability to save them. After they were cast into a fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar witnessed their miraculous protection. Amazed, he responded, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” Nebuchadnezzar decreed that anyone saying anything against their God would be cut into pieces and their houses demolished, “for no other god can save in this way” (Daniel 3:28-29).
Daniel and his three friends evangelized through their actions and words. Do you let your light shine in this dark and dangerous world? Does fear of persecution or death hinder you?
God doesn’t rescue everyone who is persecuted. The apostles were persecuted and killed, but they looked forward to heaven. At death, Christians leave their impaired bodies and enter a supremely better place. Committed Christians value eternal life with God over living on this broken planet.
Our perspectives of life and death influence our decisions. My cousin Mike acknowledged his risky environment in Africa, and continued to live out his mission without fear. He believed nothing could top heaven and being with Jesus. Hearts changed through his light and God’s power. Several hundred Muslims mourned at Mike’s burial and willingly sang, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”
The Holy Spirit helps us persevere in unfavorable circumstances. In Psalm 37, we’re encouraged not to fret because of evil men and their wicked schemes, but to delight ourselves in the Lord. God Almighty is in control and will not be mocked. This earth will eventually be destroyed by fire and the Lord will judge every person (2 Peter 3). Ultimately, evil men will be destroyed, but the righteous will be rewarded. Solomon claimed, “the prospect of the righteous is joy” (Proverbs 10:28). It was the future joy that enabled Jesus to endure sinful opposition, torture, and the cross (Hebrews 12:2-3). Paul advised, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
You may feel like you’re in a lion’s den today, but if you are a child of God, be assured that He is with you in your situation, too. Dare to be a Daniel. Focus on your heavenly future, have conviction and courage, and let your light shine.