Persecution | God’s Word Today

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” –  2 Timothy 3:12

persecutions-of-the-christians-in-the-roman-empire

Persecutions of the Christians in the Roman Empire

When you feel the stinging bite of persecution for the first time in your life, you reel back, much like someone who has been attacked by a swarm of killer bees. “What did I do to deserve this?”  Then you begin to wonder if it’s worth it to hold out for what you believe to be right or true. And that’s when the strength of your convictions determines whether you take the heat courageously, or cowardly back out of the kitchen. The reality is that as our age grows darker and more foreboding, the more will those who stand for something stand out as being “out of sync” and different from the crowd.

I couldn’t help thinking of this as a number of different situations all confronted me at the same time. I listened to a young woman tell how she was literally pushed out of her job by a boss who resented her Christian faith. A pastor poured out his heart, telling me how his convictions as to what Scripture says about divorce and remarriage had caused him to be scorned by fellow pastors and mocked by people who considered him to be “out of touch” with reality and living in the past.

You don’t have to be a Christian living in a Muslim society or a believer in a Communist country to feel the heat today. Object to what your kids are getting in school about alternative life styles embracing homosexuality, or try to raise a standard when it comes to dress or modesty, and you will quickly discover you are a pilgrim living in a hostile world, a sojourner whose citizenship is in heaven, one whose views are shared by very few other people.

“Stop praying for persecution in China to end, for it is through persecution that the church has grown.”

A visitor in China asked a leader of the growing house church movement how he could encourage people to pray for them.  The Chinese pastor said, “Stop praying for persecution in China to end, for it is through persecution that the church has grown.” Then to his great surprise the pastor added, “We, in fact, are praying that the American church might taste the same persecution, so revival would come to the American church like we have seen in China.” Perhaps his prayers are being answered.

“We, in fact, are praying that the American church might taste the same persecution, so revival would come to the American church like we have seen in China.”

When persecution knocks at your door, you tend to be taken by surprise—exactly what Peter told Christians not to experience.  He wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).  Jesus told the disciples, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you,” (Luke 6:26).  He also told them: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11).

joy-in-persecutionThe blessing of persecution is one most of us never ask for, yet the fact remains that when you stand fast in the face of opposition, God does something deep, something lasting, something purifying in your heart and soul—something that would never happen apart from what you have gone through.  That’s what we see in the biographies of men and women such as Wang Ming-Dao, Madame Jeanne Guyon, who was imprisoned for seven years, John Bunyan, who could have been freed from the Bedford prison simply by promising to stop preaching or teaching outside the established church, and a thousand others who in this generation have stood against evil and have paid the price by losing their freedom.

A closing thought: If you are persecuted, whether it is simply scorn or actually sustaining bodily harm, it is not because of the wrong you have done but because you stand for truth, for justice, or for God. And that’s when you can experience His presence and strength and an outpouring of His grace that will take your through your trial.

Resource reading:  1 Peter 4

This devotional © by Harold J. Sala.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission from Guidelines International Ministries. Not for sale or profit.

Dr. Harold J. Sala
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