One of the most popular sayings in contemporary churches today is that God has a wonderful plan for your life.
Does he really?
2 Timothy 3:12 says:
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
Now that's a word we never hear in American churches. We need to face the possibility that one day Christians will be openly persecuted in the United States. What will happen to those who are taught that if you are a christian your life should be full of wealth, health, and happiness? Will they be the first to deny Christ when persecution strikes?
All over the world those who become christians literally have to count the cost before taking a stand for Christ. They know that once word spreads they have become a follower of Christ, they and their families will be prime targets for persecution and death.
Lets look at how some of the first disciples died:
Peter - crucified (upside down)
Matthew - arrested in Ethiopia and there nailed to the ground with short spears and beheaded.
John - faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
James, the brother of Jesus- thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat him to death with a club.
Bartholomew, also know as Nathanael - beaten then crucified
Andrew - was crucified
Thomas - stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church there.
Matthias (the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot) - stoned and then beheaded.
Paul - tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.
James (son of Zebedee) was beheaded by King Herod in Palestine.
Philip was crucified.
James the Less (son of Aphaeus) was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple at Jerusalem and then stoned.
Simon was crucified.
According to Voice of the Martyrs
"In more than 40 nations around the world today Christians are being persecuted for their faith. In some of these nations it is illegal to own a Bible, to share your faith Christ, change your faith or teach your children about Jesus. Those who boldly follow Christ—in spite of government edict or radical opposition—can face harassment, arrest, torture and even death."
Does this sound like the "wonderful plan" being preached from many pulpits?
Indeed we must start calling American christians to count the cost of following Christ.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:23-26
well I guess if what they mean by "wonderful plan" is that you may face persecution in this life and when you die you get to be with Jesus for eternity...then I agree,that plan sounds wonderful.
If you like to find out more on what it really means to follow Christ check out these books: