What Exploits Will Christians Do Under Persecution?
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of six articles about persecution by WCFS graduate, missionary, and current WCFS project manager Tim Shell. They are adapted from a message series he presented earlier this year. You can watch this message on the WCFS YouTube Channel. It is titled “The Greatest Exploit: Loving the Unlovely.”
The probability of Christians in the US experiencing persecution is increasing daily and has perhaps already begun with the first step of eliminating the voice of believers from society.
If current trends continue, the Christian living today may well experience physical persecution within their lifetime. So, how should we then live? This second article in this series offers considerations on Christian persecution drawing both on Scripture and on stories of more recent believers who lived through persecution and overcame it by faith.
Our first article considered how Christians living under persecution will do the exploits described in Daniel 11:32, “But the people that know their God will be strong and do exploits.”
The life of Sung Do, a believer who lived out his faith under persecution for many years by hearing and obeying the voice of God to him by the Holy Spirit.
how we can do likewise only by hearing and obeying the “still small voice” of our Good Shepherd, Jesus, to our hearts and minds.
This article will explore what, precisely, the exploits are that believers who follow Jesus will do.
Exploits? What Exploits?
Do you want to do exploits with God? I do. Exploits refers to the unexpected, unusual or surprising victories of God's people over their enemies based on their faith in God and God showing Himself strong on their behalf. The stories of the Bible are stories of exploits. We call them heroes of the faith because they overcame by believing in God and being willing to take on dangerous risks with great courage while being alone, or in the minority. Human acts are deemed heroic when they result in the salvation of others from calamity. Vast, deep thankfulness is the resulting social atmosphere, expressed in song or dance, praising God and the newly minted heroes. This is the pattern we see with Moses at the Red Sea in Exodus 15, or with the women of Israel singing about David defeating Goliath in I Samuel 18.
Exploits are the direct result of hearing the Shepherd's voice and following His instructions. They are defined in Webster's 1828 Dictionary as: “a deed or act; more especially, a heroic act; a deed of renown; a great or noble achievement.” We should explore the characteristics of these Christian exploits prophesied by Daniel. What kind of acts will believers under persecution be found doing? What, precisely? While the exact details of future exploits remain to be seen, it is possible to describe them in general; exploits will involve lovingly doing difficult things for the sake of others, things that many turn away from because the challenge can be overwhelming or cost them too much. We can determine the essence of exploits with an if, and, and, then statement.
If as the Bible says, “My sheep hear my voice and follow me”,
and that voice today is heard primarily through the ministry of the Holy Spirit whose role is to:
lead us to Christ,
remind us of what Christ said,
reveal what He meant,
and the primary command of Christ is for us to love each other as He loved us, including our enemies,
then, the exploits God leads us to do will be sacrificial acts of love toward others which result in their deliverance.
Doing Exploits Means Loving People
Our exploits will mimic those in the life of Jesus who laid down His life for others. The nature of the exploits will be...loving people! This may or may not include our own personal deliverance from the circumstances we save others from. We may die and lose our physical life in saving others or we may be forced to abandon the “life” that we had lined up for ourselves. It will be a laying down of our life for others, with a giving attitude, not a getting attitude. Does that surprise us? It's what Jesus did. Does it sadden us? Should we be sad when God leads us into a season of dying to prepare us for a new season of living? We can't help people till we are willing to die for them.
If we want to do exploits the Spirit of God will lead us to love people. It's that simple, and it will cost us something. We will have to choose to make sacrifices for the people God asks us to care for. This is not easy because people are not easy to love. Were you? Was it easy for God to love you to the point where you turned to Him, or was God frustrated by your sheep like behavior constantly turning the wrong way? Did you come to God because you naturally tended to go that way or was the opposite true? He sought you, right?