Once I met a man who is a pastor in China under a harsh Communist regime. His church is underground, and he’s been put in jail for being a believer. In that country, almost 90 percent of the time when you get put in jail, you never come home. That’s how dangerous it is.

As the Chairman of the “SaveThePersecutedChristians.org” in America, I might have more people download my sermons and I might have more opportunities to preach in different churches, but that man far outweighs anything I’ve ever had in terms of his knowledge, revelation and relationship with God because he stood strong in the forging of that fire of suffering and difficulty.

Oftentimes, here in America where we’re not under that same weight of persecution, church becomes so easy and light and fluffy, and our practical theology becomes comfortable and easy. If we’re not careful, materialism and comfort come in and take us away from that radical, true devotion. It moves us away from the fire of faith, from being on fire for God.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul speaks of one particular man who drifted away from the Lord because of difficulty. “Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:9-11, ESV). The end of Colossians mentions Demas, and Paul’s letter to Philemon includes a greeting from Demas who is called Paul’s fellow-worker. Here, however, he said Demas had forsaken him.

In other words, this man loved the things of this world and didn’t want to sacrifice, suffer and deal with hardship as a part of being a radical follower of Christ. So he left.

Whether you’re in good times like we are in America or you’re at that place where Paul’s warning that difficult times are coming on the face of the Earth is becoming a reality, we are not excluded from this warning against the allure of the world. No matter what, we would be on guard, diligent, faithful, on our knees, looking to the Word of God. The Lord is asking us to be on fire for him, no matter what times we’re in, even if we’re in good seasons and everything’s peaceful.

We must not allow ourselves to be compromised when things are easy so that we will not give up when things are difficult.