“For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass” 1 Thessalonians 3:4
The Bible never says that life gets easier after salvation. In fact, it says quite the opposite. Paul told the Thessalonian Christians to expect adversity. He knew that persecution was unavoidable for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ (v3). And the more we live out our faith, the more adversity we’ll face. So what is it about believers that irritates many nonbelievers?
The world gets angry with people who follow Jesus because the life of Christ is radically different from anything they desire or demonstrate. That’s why Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:18–19).
Allegiance to Jesus brings conflict because we don’t participate in things that lost people participate in. The Thessalonian believers didn’t try to stir up trouble. They simply embraced their new life in Christ by no longer taking part in the immorality or idolatry that came with their previous beliefs. In other words, their faith was not merely a matter of opinion to be discussed; it was a matter of obedience.
But New Testament Christians didn’t just stop participating in things that were ungodly—they exposed them (Ephesians 5:11). This is where many of us get tripped up today. We want to quietly live by our personal convictions without voicing disapproval of anyone else’s lifestyle. Speaking up doesn’t mean we have to be belligerent—just obedient. And obedience brings hardship. But we are children of Light; and light exposes darkness (Ephesians 5:8).
If we’re following Jesus closely then we should expect adversity, not be surprised by it. So if you’re not experiencing some degree of adversity for your faith then ask yourself, “Why not?” Does your life look more like Jesus or like the world? Are you participating in activities or entertainment that’s contrary to the Light within you? Or maybe you’re remaining silent when God is nudging you to speak up. It’s true, obedience may cause conflict. But it might just light up the path for someone who’s living in the dark.