Jesus warned us of persecution so we should not be surprised.
As He sent His original twelve apostles out to minister to towns, His original path for them was to stick only to Jewish towns. “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt 10:5-6) He needed to show them that even in the one people group that should be the most open arms about Him… the one people group who had been memorizing all the scriptures that foretold of His coming… if anyone would receive them well, it should be them. Jesus had to show them to expect persecution even among the Israelites before they could fully understand the persecution that would come from the rest of the world.
In His launching speech of their first mission trip, He warned them it was a dangerous mission. “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake,” (Matt 10:16-18a) But it’s the second part of the last sentence that shines light onto the purpose of the persecution. “to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matt 10:18b-20)
Christ knew that only through persecution could His message reach the outsiders. This was the only way to get the attention of the ‘kings and the Gentiles’. In fact it was religious persecution that actually led to the settlement of America. The Christians fleeing Europe to America weren’t persecuted by Muslims, or Atheists, they were being persecuted by the Catholic Church (at the height of the Reformation).
Persecution comes in all shapes and sizes. And although in 2013, the United States did not have enough Christian Persecution to make a color shade on this map, those times have already begun to change. In the last three years we have seen a growing persecution of Christians. Everyone’s rights rise above that of a Christian. The right of an atheist to not hear the word of God trumps the right of a Christian to pray (even silently) after a football game).
So as this persecution rises quickly in our country, what can help us prepare for it and bring us comfort? Jesus told us to expect it. And He told us it was for a purpose. When there is no persecution, the church goes on quietly with nobody noticing. But when persecution occurs, the spotlight is shining. More and more people become aware of the issue and are now able to hear the discussion.
Sometimes persecution is for the purpose of causing us to spread out. This happened to the first century church. It happened during the Reformation, and it happens to us still today. The Enemy tries to use persecution to add stress to your life in an attempt to make you quiet about the Gospel. But the Father uses is to spread the Gospel.
I pray that you appreciate my blogs. They are my way of journaling as I read His word. If you do like them, please be sure to click the Follow Hisfamily Ministries button in the top right corner AND to spread the word. Share these posts with others and perhaps they will be blessed too.