Dare to Pay the Price for the Prize
By Heather Lynn 5 Minute Read
Something beautiful and miraculous happens when a person becomes a believer. All at once, they are given hope, a new life, and a future with the Lord. As they are changed on the inside, transformation takes place on the outside. People begin to see this transformation and often react in one of two ways: they are either supportive and encouraging, or they are critical and reject the new change. The more we grow in our Christian faith, the more we experience persecution and rejection. Unfortunately, many Christians allow the world to dim the light that is living inside of them. Remember the old Christian song, “This Little Light of Mine” and the part that says. “...hide it under a bushel, no, I’m gonna let it shine?” What tempts us to hide our faith or give in to the devil’s schemes? The answer is persecution and rejection. However, if we persevere and allow these things to make our faith stronger, we will find great reward in Christ.
It is a blessing to walk the path that Jesus walked, even when that means enduring hardships. The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:10-11 that we will experience persecution as Jesus did, but God will bless us because we are his followers. Enduring the persecution and rejection of others identifies us with Christ. It shows that our life is not found in anything the world can offer, but in a relationship with the God who is preparing an eternal future for us. Do you see yourself as part of the world or as part of His kingdom? If you live like you belong to Christ instead of the world, then you will see that persecution will lead to blessings and an eternal reward.
It can be difficult to see persecution as a blessing. 2 Timothy 3:12-13 states that anyone who is a follower of Christ will suffer persecution. Those who are against the Lord view Christianity as a threat to their selfish living, so they will lie and slander what they do not know. They will deceive and be deceived. Often they persecute because they think that Christians are prejudiced, narrow-minded, and hateful. They can’t understand what a life of Christ is because they do not have Him living inside of them and are not hungry for a new life. Matthew 24:9 tells us that we will be hated because we are followers of Christ. You may struggle with doubt due to persecution, but just remember that it is Christ they hate. They hate who He was, what He did, and what He stood for because it is in complete contrast to how they live. Even though persecution can be wearing, it is a constant reminder that we are not of this world and belong to Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we live for what is to come. We know that any joys we experience in this life will not compare to the prize that is being prepared. Therefore, we do not lose sight of the blessing that awaits. As Matthew 5:12 says, we rejoice in our sufferings because we know that our ancestors suffered in the same way with the understanding that God was preparing a great reward for them. Everything they did pointed toward that hope because they set their sights on things above instead of earthly things (Colossians 3:1). Most people will put their own needs and desires above anyone else, but as Christians, we sacrifice and look to the interests of others. Enduring persecution takes a true sacrifice, but we persevere because we have our sights on things above.
You may be thinking, “what is the eternal reward, and is it worth the suffering?” Revelation 21:1-4 gives us a beautiful answer. The first reward is a new heaven and a new earth. His Word says that the old world will be destroyed along with the negative, bad, and sinful. Everything that stands between man and God will be gone. The greatest reward that verse 3 tells us, though, is God Himself. He is our reward. He will live among His people forever. He will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (verse 4). Can you imagine it? This is reason enough to let our little light shine for the world to see.