The Warfare of the Christian is like foreign missions, romantic to talk about but drably realistic to live through. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs provides a delightful thrill in the reading, but I doubt that any of the martyrs themselves enjoyed their dyings as much as we enjoy reading about them.
The habit of speaking always in highly colored figures when describing the Christian life has created an idealistic picture altogether unlike the life itself. Just as a battle as conceived by the civilian who reads about it differs from the mud and blood and dirt and unspeakable weariness of the real thing, so the Christian life as we all must live it is quite another thing from the joyous adventure of the “blood-washed pilgrim in shining garments clad” of whom we have heard in the familiar song. There is need for greater realism in our Christian testimony. Those who follow the Lamb must face the hostility of the world, and we may be sure there will be nothing enjoyable in the world’s displeasure.
The Word of God itself does not hedge the facts. “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). So states the apostle frankly. But here again we have refused to allow the ugly word persecution to mean what it means. We have poetized it and covered it with a shimmering garment of soft sentiment. Consequently when a new convert first runs into the cold, harsh suffering he must endure for Christ’s sake, he is not prepared to face it.
It is right here that many go back. They are neatly handled by those who have brought them to that pass. It is all simple. They are simply classified as backsliders. I wonder if they are so in fact. Are they not rather persons who have been persuaded to become Christians by false representation, and who, when they later see the whole picture, do not care for what they see?
In our eagerness to make converts we are under constant temptation to hide from our hearers the fact that the Christian life is not a pleasurable religious game, but a life of repentance, self-crucifixion, humiliation and rejection.A.W. Tozer, A Word in Season [Emphasis mine]
G.K. Beale said…
“Light and darkness cannot dwell together in peaceful coexistence. Therefore a witnessing church will be a persecuted church.”