Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Kingdom Troubles

Jesus promised we would have them.

...for it is no new thing that the kingdom of heaven should be the object of strife and contention. And do not hope that it is men alone who persecute you; there are devils in those who envy your possessions; against them take up that armour of God to which the apostle points, and make a path to heaven, hurling these arrows, as it were, of earnest prayer.

  - Columbanus, Letter to His Disciples, Irish, 7th century[1]

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

  - 2 Timothy 3.12

We’re hearing a good bit of concern these days about the rising “persecution” of Christians in America, in particular, with reference to not-so-subtle threats against our religious freedom.

Of course, what we are beginning to experience in this country is nothing compared to what believers elsewhere are being subjected to at the hands of religious fanatics and political power-brokers. It helps to keep things in perspective.

There is reason to be concerned, I suppose. Concerned, but not surprised. All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. It is no new thing that the Kingdom of heaven should be the object of strife and contention.

Everything’s apparently proceeding according to the agenda.

The Lord’s agenda, that is. To live a godly life in Christ Jesus is to abound in good works; to be fair, honest, and gentle in speech; to be truthful and trustworthy in all things; to avoid the snares of this secular and material age; to live in joy and hope; and to seek the best for others, even at the expense of our own wellbeing.

For this we should be persecuted?

Seems strange, I know, but that’s the way the world is, and always has been.

Yet, as Peter notes, we need to make sure that, if we are to be persecuted, it’s for the right things (1 Pet. 2.18-21). I can’t help but think that a good bit of the antipathy which is today being directed against the Christian community in America is not so much because of our godly lives, but because of resentments that have built up due to our smugness, hypocrisy, and sense of entitlement.

Persecuted, yes – for godly lives in line with the holy and righteous and good Law of God, and for clear and uncompromised testimonies concerning the truth of the Gospel.

Then let the world do what it will. We will not be afraid.

Anything that for a moment reminds the world that it is sinful, in rebellion from God, and not living up to its own standards of decency will incite the wrath of some. Jesus said it. Paul said it. It has been true in every generation. So let’s not be surprised when we find it to be true in our day.

It’s not enough to whine and complain about threats to our freedom. We must strive to live godly in Christ Jesus and to speak plainly concerning the demands and promises of the Gospel. Let persecutions come, if they do, and keep up the whole armor of God – faith, righteousness, the Word and Spirit of God, the Gospel, and prayer – against all the trials this world might throw at you. The Lord will never fail you nor forsake you, and you will rejoice, like the apostles did, to be counted worthy to suffer for His Name (Acts 5.41).

Kingdom troubles are really the Lord's way of honoring our faithfulness and strengthening us for even more challenging opportunities ahead. In Christ we patiently endure within the tension between seeking the Kingdom and enduring the tribulations foisted on us by those who despise the Lord (Rev. 1.9). We do not seek the Kingdom or work for its progress in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit without also knowing that troubles can come at us from the world.

So let them come. With the full armor of God and a firm resolve, we can endure any Kingdom troubles that may come our way and be better followers of Christ as a result.

For Reflection
1. How would you advise a new believer to prepare for persecution?

2. How should we encourage one another, given the prospects for persecution?

Psalm 124.1-3, 6, 7 (Neumark: If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee)
If You had not been with us, Jesus – let all who love You say with pride –
when foes rose up to fright and seize us, they would have swallowed us alive!
  Our help is in Your Name, O Lord, Who made creation by Your Word.

Blessed be the Lord Who has not given us to our foes to be devoured.
We shall escape and rise to heaven by His eternal grace and power.
  Our help is in Your Name, O Lord, Who made creation by Your Word.

Lord, give me grace and strength to bear up under whatever Kingdom troubles may come, so that I…

Help for working your Personal Mission Field
Don’t forget to listen to this month’s Personal Mission Field Workshop. It’ll make you a little spongier (click here). Pick up your free copies of our books, Joy to Your World! and The Gospel of the Kingdom by clicking here. And if you want to know more about why the Law of God matters for your Personal Mission Field, order a free copy of our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, by clicking here.

Please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe at this time. Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Walker, p. 27.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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