Recently, 300 youth from churches across the Blue Mountains gathered at Springwood Anglican Church for a Thirteen Three Release event.
Dave McPhail, the Youth Pastor, gave a great message which raised the question: As Christians, how can we have confidence in the face of opposition?
This is a brilliant and relevant question for the youth of today. This generation of youth have a lot going on in their lives: school, peer pressure, puberty and parental expectations are just a few of the pressures that youth have to overcome. In such an environment we know that many youth struggle with life and might feel that the world is against them.
For a young Christian, there is another dimension of opposition where school, peers and even family can be against them because of their faith. Add this to the intense pressures young people already experience and it can feel impossible to have confidence in such a hostile world.
As Christians, the Bible tells us to expect times of opposition. Currently, in Australia, there are groups trying to stop Scripture being taught in New South Wales schools. On an individual level, you may face criticism from your parents for going to church, or you might be mocked by your peers for the moral choices you make when it comes to relationships.
This should not surprise us. The Bible is quite clear that we do not belong to the world – we belong to Jesus, and therefore we will face opposition (John 15:19) . However, many discard their faith because of the pressure and difficulties they face. It shouldn’t be like this; in fact, we can have great confidence in the face of opposition.
What can we learn from persecuted Christians?
Our persecuted brothers and sisters live in societies where they are always living with hostility. The opposition that they face is often physical and can even lead to death.
At the Blue Mountains Release event, Thirteen Three’s Jono Fox shared about the shocking persecution that Christians face in North Korea.
“Living in North Korea is tough,” he explained. “I met Stephen, who escaped North Korea last year. He described how the leaders would say, ‘North Korea is the richest country in the world,’ but in reality, he was driven to escape North Korea because he was so hungry. Stephen became a Christian when he read the Bible for the first time in China and realised that what he had been taught in North Korea was all lies. The Bible was actually telling him the truth.”
Despite severe persecution, many North Koreans continue to worship God. How can they do this when they know they could be arrested or executed for it?
As Dave said, “It is amazing what you can do when you know someone has your back.” It gives us confidence when we know we have support. As Christians, we have the living God as our support.
We can have confidence, even in the face of opposition, because we know that God has provided salvation and security for us in Jesus Christ.
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” Romans 8:31-33.
God did everything to save us! His Son died for us so that we could be reconciled with God. No one can take that away from us. Therefore, there is no enemy we need to fear because we know that our God is on our side. The Apostle Paul says no one can take us from the love of God. He wrote, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:38-39.
What a wonderful encouragement it is to know that the Sovereign God of the universe has our back and is with us through all the difficulties and problems we face. This is what gives our persecuted brothers and sisters confidence and will also encourage us to endure any form of opposition to our faith.
What opposition are you facing today?
Where do you get your confidence from? Does this need to change?
What are you afraid of as you live for Christ in a hostile world?
How does what you just read impact your fears?
Which Christian friend will you encourage with the knowledge of God’s inexhaustible strength?
Remember this verse to help you in hard times: John 15:19