Persecution

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Scriptural Reference:

Peace in times of Persecution:
"But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten."
Jeremiah 20:11

The situation as in unfolds:
"Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you."
1 John 3:13

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you... If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you... because they do not know Him who sent Me."
John 15:18

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues [today it might be from churches]; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them."
John 16:1-4

Reflection:

Knowing Jesus the Christ as your Lord and Saviour does not mean that life will be a bed of roses. Every rose has thorns. So there will be discomfort and pain. In fact the Lord warned those who follow him that they World would hate and despise them for the very fact that they have chosen the righteous perfect grace of God over the corrupt sinful ways of those who live in the World. So we are told not to be surprised that people we once were on good terms with will betray us and start attack us. In an interesting book I am reading presently (Faith that Endures) it tells of a young actress who had become a Christian. She complained that she didn't understand why people hated her. She professed (rather proudly) that she was nicer, more honest and all round better now she knew Christ. Her expectation was that being a Christian sets someone apart and makes them special and loved. The reality is that is sets people apart from the World and the World hates this. People are complacently comfortable in the filth and mire they call humanity. Anyone who steps out is seen as rude and up themselves. So they attack these individuals in the hope of bringing them back down.

This hatred that is directed towards Christians goes back a very long time. In fact prior to the individual becoming a Christian. As we read in the Gospel, the World hated God and Jesus from the start. Oddly it points out a startling fact that is relevant in today's tragic World (John 15:18). Some will go about killing Christians thinking that offer a service to God. How often do we hear today the angry cruel words from some crazed Muslim saying they are killing for Allah or God (John 16:1-4). The concept that those who do the persecution do not know either God or Jesus is strongly felt today. Those who prescribe to an Atheist stance reject any form of religious belief. Though they tend to take a nasty disposition towards Christians. While those who have a religious stance can tend to reject Christians as a form of intercultural clash of faiths. Where faith is no longer a personal choice and journey, but has taken on a strong cultural bias.

Oddly as I type this I remember that the very term Persecution is argued and debated by some. For some, the term can only be applied to anyone who has been tortured and lost their life as a direct result of refusing to recant their faith. While, for others, it is an ongoing battle that Christians have while following Christ and living in the World. The first tend to see persecution in dark drastic terms of extremes. While the second considers it to be an everyday part of life. What does Jesus say about it?

"Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Reading this simple yet powerful passage informs us of three concepts. The first is a blessing on those who are feeling persecuted. The second is a statement that persecution is a fact of life for a Christian. While the third gives a glimpse of the reward for those who stay the path of righteousness. Then there is this next verse...

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."
John 5:11

Notice the word "when" is used. It doesn't say "if". The use of this word is important as it signifies the fact of persecution. People who follow Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, are going to be persecuted. It becomes a fact of life. Perhaps on always in life and death situations, but in such ways as their faith will be challenged. This negates the person who says they were 'persecuted' because someone cut them off and took the parking spot they wanted. But it supports the feeling of persecution when someone is denied a promotion because they are a Christian. The first is just an everyday factor of life that everyone has to deal with and has not connection to the individuals faith. While the second speaks directly to the individuals faith.

So where have you been 'persecuted' this last week? What sort of witness have you been for the Gospel?

Prayer:

Lord,
Let me count it a blessing,
When someone;
Rejects me,
Insults me,
Abuses me,
Hurts me,
If only for your sake.

Amen