On January 13, 2017, Breitbart published a story by Dr. Thomas D. Williams, PH.D, stating that 2016 was identified “as the ‘worst year yet’ for Christian persecution” in 25 years. In her book Distortion, Chelsen Vicari says that “if American Christians don’t speak” As we have discussed in past articles in this blog, we are at war, as Christians, but it is a spiritual war. We, as humans, know how to wage physical war, and we’re pretty good at it. We know how to wage psychological war, and we’re pretty good at that, too. But how do we wage spiritual war against persecution? Is Ms. Vicari right in her statement as to what we must do? If we do this as we should, let’s go to the scriptures to see what we are to do, what our attitude should be, and why.
No one likes to be ridiculed or treated unfairly. Persecution is just that. When we, or anyone is treated with hostility because of race, political or religious beliefs, it is persecution. They don’t know who we are personally, and they don’t care. They see us as someone with a belief that they find offensive. I’m not sure how what we believe is offensive considering it is based on love. Some see Christianity as threatening to their belief or lifestyle.
I Matthew 5:10, 11 and 12, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
We just agreed that no one likes to be treated badly, and then Jesus says we should rejoice and be glad? What was He thinking? Remember that this passage is at the end of the Beatitudes, where He told us that blessed are those who are poor in spirit, mourn, are meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, are merciful, are pure in heart, and are peacemakers. Some of these we are willing to take on. It sounds righteous to be humble, merciful, pure in heart, and a peacemaker. Some of those others, not so much. And that persecution bit? No, thank you!
We must remember that what we do on earth is not for us; it is for God. We are persecuted not because of who we are, but because they do not know God (John 15:21). Regardless of what we may think, God is in control. If He wants us to be persecuted, He has a reason. We know, as stated earlier, that we are to rejoice and be glad, because of the reward for which we strive. We also know, as James stated, that our trials are meant to develop our perseverance. This in turns must finish its work so that we may be made mature and complete.
Now most of us are not persecuted for our faith. And if we are, it usually isn’t accompanied with the threat of death as it is in other countries. That is not to say that someday we won’t face such persecution. We do face trials each day, though, so here’s your challenge. For the next 24 hours after reading this post, whenever you face a trial or test, tell yourself to rejoice and be glad for the opportunity to grow in perseverance. At the end, let me know what you experienced. As you go through this time, don’t forget to pray often. Trust me, it helps.