"3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you." -- Matthew 24:3-4
If there's anything Christians in America need to prepare themselves for, it's persecution. Twelve years ago today, two girls were among those killed at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, whose stories were different from the rest of the victims. Cassie and Rachel had one moment to choose life or death, and both chose to acknowledge their faith in Jesus rather than deny him; both took a bullet and died for their faith. Their stories made big waves as hundreds were saved at their funerals.
Throughout the next few years, that was all anyone in any American youth group heard about. "Would you die for Jesus?" DC Talk and Voice of the Martyrs released a book telling the stories of martyrs from the Apostles down to the modern day. Musicians like Five Iron Frenzy, Flyleaf, and Michael W. Smith wrote and dedicated songs to them. Preachers all over used this as an example; however, this and one other incident left us without another example since 1999. This, however, proved that persecution doesn't have to be about the government saying you can't talk about Jesus in public, it can be a fellow citizen working against you.
It's easy to slip into complacency when we don't have an enemy right in front of our faces. The devil is sneaky, and he likes us to forget he's there. When you've got someone with a gun in your face telling you to do something, it's easy to get up in our flesh and resist them. When you've got groups of people around you whispering about what you're doing, it's easier to question whether it's right. Bottom line: you have to know for yourself that Jesus is Lord, and you're not going to give in to satan.
So, while the world around says you're crazy for going after Jesus wholeheartedly, you have to refute those doubts. People will say you're crazy, but remember that they don't understand what's going on.
"9And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
10Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed." -- Isaiah 6:9-10.
People don't want the Truth of the Gospel, lest they'd have to change their lives, giving up the things they hold so dear. You and I are called to make that sacrifice, but because they are unwilling to submit their minds to the Mind of Christ, it will fail to make sense to them. For every dedicated son or daughter of the Kingdom, remember Jesus' promises in Revelation 3:
7And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
8I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
9Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
10Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
12Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.13He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."