What did you expect when you became a believer? Did you have any idea what the Christian life would be like? Did you think things would be easier?
Read how the author of Hebrews urged the recipients of his letter to reflect on the early days of their Christian journey:
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. (Hebrews 10:32-33)
It’s a stark picture of the realities that the disciples of Jesus faced in the first–century church. Persecution was common. It’s very possible the first encounters the Hebrews had with believers were in hidden rooms, side streets, and hushed courtyards, dodging the Judaizers’ spies and Roman authorities. Many who received this letter were among the Jews evicted from Rome by the emperor Claudius in 49 AD, and some perhaps even survived Nero’s reign of terror. As these believers surrendered to Christ, they knew they were getting themselves into a life of tribulation and affliction. Not unlike modern-day martyrs in China, North Korea, Afghanistan, or Somalia, they witnessed family, friends, or neighbors dragged off to beatings or death for proclaiming faith in Jesus, just as he prophesied (Matthew 24:9) and the apostles foretold (Acts 9:16). How is such endurance possible?