We’ve all heard certain Christian pastors declaring that we are “destined to reign”. Sounds really good doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to reign like a king? In fact, it is our ineluctable destiny – 100% chance we will receive it in the future. However, these Bible teachers claim that this destiny is achievable right now in this life. Not in the age of come but now. We “shall reign over sin, sickness, poverty, defeat, depression, and over the devil and all his plans,” as one author claims. They often use this verse:
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Assuming Paul means we are destined to reign (which he does not say), how about being destined for persecution in this life?
1 Thessalonians 3:2-4
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.
Imagine pastors proclaiming to their congregation, “You are destined for persecution!” Well, that won’t elicit any cheers or clapping but booing and jeering. Let’s face it. No one wants to suffer. Me included.
We have to hold both reigning and suffering together. Paul sent Timothy to reassure the Thessalonians that persecution was to be expected. He predicted it even before it arrived so their faith must not be shaken.
In 2 Thessalonians, Paul writes to them again about their trials and sufferings.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-7
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
Notice that true justice will only occur when Jesus returns. This means that while we are on earth, the bad guys can win. But when Jesus returns, he going to settle the score for us. Just like the Terminator says in Judgment Day, Jesus tells us, “I’ll be back.”
Until that time, suffering for our faith cannot be avoided. Paul tells them to stand firm because Jesus will be coming back to right the wrongs. Don’t give in the evil ones! If you give in now, you won’t be reigning with Jesus when he returns in blazing fire.
Paul reminds Timothy to stand firm in this life:
2 Timothy 3:12-13
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Tough words. Take note of the key words “everyone”, ” godly” and “persecuted”. When you try to live a godly life, you will be persecuted. What if you’re not persecuted? You’re not godly. This applies to everyone not just pastors.
Bottom line: If you want to reign, you need to be willing to suffer persecution.