In the same way, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.[Romans 11:5]
As committed followers and faithful believers in Jesus Christ, it is easy to feel alone and outnumbered in this world — like a soldier trapped in hostile territory and surrounded by the enemy. As believers, we are forced to navigate in the world but are not of the world, remembering that if the world first hated Jesus, then it will hate us too.
Following Jesus in a wicked world means swimming against the strong current of the mainstream that leads to destruction and walking the narrow road that leads to life, however difficult or lonely it may be. Learning to live in the minority is one of the essential callings of the committed Christian. As followers of Jesus and children of God, we have been “set apart” by God from the rest of the unbelieving world.
Christians are called to be distinct, different, holy, and contrary to the world. We are a peculiar people saved for a peculiar purpose. Jesus reminds us of this in John 17.
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.[John 17:14-19]
This has been God’s plan from the beginning. No matter how wicked the world or how evil the age, God always has and always will preserve for Himself a believing remnant — a people for His own possession. This was true in ancient times and is true today. Consider how many times God saved a remnant in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation.
- God kept Noah and his family of 8 through the flood
- God kept Jacob and his family of 70 through the famine
- God kept Moses through Pharaoh’s slaughter of the Hebrew children
- God kept Joshua and Caleb through 40 years of wandering in the wilderness
- God kept Elijah and 7,000 who refused to bow the knee to Baal
- God kept Daniel and the exiles through the Babylonian invasion
- God kept Esther and Mordecai through Haman’s murderous scheme
- God kept Ezra and Nehemiah to return to the land
- God kept 120 faithful in the upper room waiting for the Spirit on Pentecost
You get my point.
And it is no different today than it always has been. God is faithful to preserve a faithful remnant in the face of overwhelming odds and outright hostility. The call to follow Jesus is the call to overcome — the call to endure and remain faithful to the end.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;[2 Timothy 2:10-13]
12if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
Although the days are evil and we are living in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation, we must not lose heart. We are not alone. We belong to the remnant. Although our numbers be few, our faith is growing stronger. And even if we have to stand alone for what is right and true, then so be it.
To follow Jesus means to shun the world. To follow Jesus means to be hated by the world. To follow Jesus means to be outcast from the culture. To follow Jesus means to be mocked and ridiculed and reviled and persecuted for His sake. To follow Jesus means to be unpopular.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.[James 4:4]
As the days grow increasingly evil, it will become more and more difficult to follow Jesus. We should expect to be mistreated, abused, and falsely accused. We should be prepared to suffer for sake of Christ and His gospel, but at the same time we can trust God to provide more grace to all of His people, knowing that difficult days are ahead.
Do not fear Christian. Do not be discouraged, O child of God. Do not let your hearts be troubled. May the words of our Lord and Savior provide comfort to us all, as we continue to walk the difficult road of faith and swim boldly against the current of the world.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.[John 16:33]
Even so, come Lord Jesus!