In the book of Acts, there are women who are described as prominent and influential. When Jesus of Nazareth is preached with conviction through the Apostle Paul and Barnabas, the Jews began to stir up devout women who were converts to Judaism agitating the missionaries. “The Word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high-standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against then and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:49).
The Bible does not describe how these women “stirred and agitated” the Apostle and Barnabas, but they were successful with their gossip and rhetoric. It reminds me of those individuals who are in “power” and desire to stay in “power”. I’ve seen it in the church, business, politics, and the world. When someone or something begins to “stir” the status quo, you can see even though most “God-Fearing” of people change. Man loves position. Man loves power. Man loves status. And when something as powerful as God attempts to remove that power, status, and position, you may find yourself as Paul, cast out.
As a Christian, we are to be as the disciples, full of joy when we experience outcast due to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. When we stand for Truth, do not expect everyone to agree or jump on the bandwagon. As hard as that might seem, you are being persecuted for Christ.
Standing for your love in Christ, praying in public, and spreading the Gospel may result in rejection. Woman, you are to expect that. God said His Son was to be rejected and if Jesus was rejected, why do we think we will not be (Isaiah 53:3) Christ was crucified for who He was. As Christians, we are not to be shocked and dismayed when it happens to us.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
To those who refuse to listen Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the Rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the Rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7: 24-27)
The “last days” are described to a young man who needed encouragement. The Apostle Paul is writing to a believer named Timothy. The Man of God is appealing to the youth “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). Timothy needs his “flame fanned” (2 Timothy 1:6). Strong oppression has come against this young man and the Apostle writes to strengthen his spirit.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves (we call pictures of ourselves, selfies!), lovers of money (explanatory!), boastful, proud, and abusive (social media is an example of this), disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5
These last day attitudes and behaviors are pushed towards Christians daily, although we are to have nothing to do with them.
“Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak willed women, who are loaded down with sins and swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:5-15)
My intimate relationship with Christ has changed my life. I could never deny the impact the Holy Spirit, Scripture, worship, faith, hope, and God have had on my life. My entire family will attest to it and has changed some in my family to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. Christ was not moved by the rejection, criticism, mockery, backlash, or arguments many subjected towards Him; on the contrary, He blessed and prayed for them, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Paul exhorts Timothy to rebuke his fear and claim a sound mind through the power of Christ (2 Timothy 1:7) Writing to the church in Colossae, Paul emboldens the believers to not be taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of THIS world rather than Christ. They were to continue living in Christ Jesus as Lord, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in faith, and overflowing in thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-8).
The world changes continuously. Ideas float around, sound good and people accept them as truth. Given time, these ideas soon “fade” out and new ones filter in which “adapt” to the culture at hand. What I love most about Christianity is, “I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6) “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and what was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8) Christians are to be focused on living a life towards God. We are to be light in a dark world, where others look on in wonder and awe with our relationship with Christ. Sadly this is not the case. Some Christians look towards the “world” for answers, adapt to its ways, and manipulate Scripture to fit their ideals. Well, God does not change and neither will His Word.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” (Proverbs 25:2). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7). The mind of Christ was set on His Father. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.” (John 5:19-20) We are to set our minds on things above seated at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:2). Our minds are to be focused on God, holiness, spreading the Gospel, and acting as such.
Woman, you may experience criticism, arguments, demands to explain your point of view, slander, gossiped about, and excluded from groups all because you refuse to denounce your faith or a portion of what Christ stands for. The “world” will attempt to demean your stance as a Christian woman, describing you as being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen all the while submitting to the slavery of your husband. It is almost laughable what society pictures a Christian woman doing.
It takes great strength to be a Christian.
Praying and blessing the ones who hurt you is not easy; that is Christ’s strength through you. Loving the ones who are rude, self seeking, slanderous, and gossipers is Christ’s love on the cross blooming in your life. Forgiving those who have scarred your heart where bitterness could have festered is Christ’s pleas to His Father, “Forgive them Lord, they do not know what they are doing.” The difference between the world’s criticism and the Christian faith is joy. We are to experience great joy my friend when we are persecuted for loving Christ (Matthew 5:11-12). We are being singled out for being a lover of Christ.
The world will try and marginalize a Christian woman, but we know it takes great self-control and will to submit to our King, than to our own selfish will. I pray, my sister in Christ, you are strong. Strong in your faith, strong in prayer, strong in Christ, strong in your belief, and strong when the trials come, standing firm in your belief in Christ. I pray these hollow, empty, constant-changing philosophies of this world will never take you or your mind captive. Stand unashamed for Christ.
Let us pray out loud and CONFESS the Word of the Living God;
a prayer for strength during persecution
I desire to be strong in the Lord and in Your mighty power. Help me everyday to put on the armor of God so that I may take my stand against the schemes of the world. I know my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
I will put on the full armor of God, so that when the day comes to stand for You, I will be able to stand my ground and stand firm with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword as the Word of God. I will pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests to strengthen my spirit, mind, and belief in Christ (adapted from Ephesians 6:10-18).
I pray to be unashamed and boldly stand when no one will stand for You. I understand if Christ was persecuted, I should expect the same with great joy (Matthew 5:11-12)! I pray to be aware of those I consider close friends for I do not to be misled, “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) I pray to memorize Scripture so I can always give a word when asked about my faith (1 Peter 3:15).
I understand the world think it strange I do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation and they will heap abuse on me, but we will all give an account of our lives; I choose Christ! (1 Peter 4:4-5) Thank You for the Word, thank You God for Truth, and thank You for the power to stand firm for You. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, amen.