2Ti 4:16-18 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! (17) But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. (18) The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
A good friend recently reminded me of these verses and I referred to them last Sunday in my sermon on the cost of following Christ. When you belong to Christ, you will at one time or another experience loneliness. Being alone. Being deserted. Targets of evil are not popular with the world, you know.
Standing for Christ often means exposing evil. Jesus said that we are the light of the world and the fact is, darkness hates the light because its deeds are evil. Jesus said so. So when you shine for Christ, most people, including many/most professing Christians, are going to distance themselves from you. They don’t want to pay the price of shining.
The result? Aloneness. If you think carefully through the Bible, thinking of the Lord’s true people – Moses, Elijah, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, and of course the Lord Jesus Himself, what do you find? Largely, they stood alone, hated by the world.
And this is why Christ’s true church is so important. Nowadays we have quite a hard time finding it, but I suppose that has always been the case. Trying to seek out the true people of God is a hard business and often we are met with disappointments when we thought we finally connected and it turns out what we thought was gold was in fact lead with gold paint. Nevertheless, we pray that the Lord would enable us to connect with His real people.
Notice thought hat Paul gives us great encouragement with the encouragement he experienced in his aloneness: “But the Lord stood by me.” Ultimatley, there is our comfort. The truth is, if we know Christ, if we are really born again, we are never really alone.