"I'm Good" by @TripLee116
I am not a prophet. I do not know the future. But I am passionately convinced of something. The students we lead will need spiritual tools in the near future that we have rarely used up to this point in our American cultural Christianity.
But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. - Jesus (Matthew 24:8-13, emphasis mine)A President has mentioned that the United States of America is not a Christian nation. Anti-American riots are happening all over the world. Christians in the USA have been arrested, even in the good ol' Southern Bible belt. In a small community college in Mississippi, two Christians were told they could not bow their heads and silently pray over their lunch in the cafeteria. Groups are vigorously seeking lawsuits to attack the practice of public prayer at public schools.
The USA will be no longer be known for its Christianity very, very soon. But that does not keep me up at night, because Christ is Lord of godless nations, just as He is of semi-Christian ones. (Just ask the ancient pharaoh of Moses' Egypt whether who was god after the ten plagues were over.)
What does keep me up at night is something else entirely. In ten very short years, my oldest child will be a senior in high school. She will need spiritual tools that I have never really needed. She, and the teenagers I lead every week, will need to be able to see persecution as a blessing within the next ten years, if not before. They will need to be ready to be arrested if need be. They will need to see Jesus as the only thing their life really needs, and be eager to grow closer to Him as a result of suffering, remembering that He, too, suffered. And HE suffered for THEM, so what a blessing that THEY could suffer for HIM!
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." - James, the brother of Jesus (James 1:2-4), emphasis mine
But how do I effectively teach that which I only marginally understand? We lead from our own hearts, and while I think that my faith is strong enough to find joy in being arrested for Christ, I am praying that my faith and joy would be as faithful and joyful as Paul and Silas.
So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. (Acts 16:24-25, emphasis mine)
But if I am not yet that faithful and joyful, then may I show the next generation of Jesus freaks that their faith and joy can be, and should be.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. (Hebrews 12:2-4)
My country will probably not be know by its passion for Jesus. But I will declare this. My life will be filled with a passion for Jesus. I pray others will see it. I pray I will faithfully pass it on to my daughters. I also pray that the students I hang out with will catch a little of that passion, and that they will be ready for what is coming. Because it most certainly is coming. But we can be ready. Let us all keep our eyes on only one thing - Jesus.