Monday, July 2, 2012

Persecution: A Blessing in Disguise!

God's Words:

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
~2 Timothy 3:12-15

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.
~Matthew 5:10-12

A while back one of my children had an issue with a friend in which my child felt persecuted by this friend for something she believes.  Well, it wasn't actually her little friend that made her feel bad for what she believed, but more accurately the friend's parents.  These parents where upset that our child was sharing her belief about the truth of Christ with their child.

This incident left our entire family feeling sad and even a bit angry at first.  How dare they ask us not to allow our children to talk about the truth of Jesus with their child!  What is so wrong about that?  Would they really rather that their child never know about who Christ really is?  If we respect their way of life (even though we may not agree with some of what they do and believe) and keep our thoughts about it to ourselves, why do they feel free to openly criticize our beliefs and way of life?

It goes without saying that this family isn't currently serious about Christ and having a real relationship with Him as Savior and Lord.  We are fully aware of this and are always hoping and praying to be able to plant seeds of truth and faith in their lives as we interact with them from time to time.  After all, we as believers are called to be active in the world, sharing the love and truth of Christ with everyone we meet.  But it just hurts so much when this most important part of our lives is ridiculed and we are made to feel like we are the ones in the wrong.

After we talked about this issue as a family and prayed about it together, we all calmed down and began to look at things from God's perspective.  Jesus often talked about persecution.  He spoke of how He continually faced it, how righteous people before our time faced it, how all believers must also face it, and why we are persecuted. But Jesus also, and most importantly, told us about the blessing of being persecuted and how we should truly feel when it happens to us.

Jesus said we are to rejoice and be glad when we are persecuted because of our belief and faith in Him.  We should feel blessed when we are persecuted for wanting and trying to live godly lives.  Wait...  What??  How can we possibly feel good in any way when we are mistreated, criticized, made fun of or worse for believing in Christ and living for Him? 

Well I think it's only natural to feel hurt and sad (and maybe even a little mad) at first when someone treats you this way.  Those are just our natural human emotions coming into play.  But if you pray about it and try to focus on how God sees things, you will start to see the blessings in disguise!  Once you peel away the initial layers of hurt and sadness, you'll be able to more clearly see how it is actually a blessing and a reason to rejoice and be glad when someone persecutes us.

Rejoice why?  Exactly what kind of blessings are we talking about here?  Well, we can rejoice in the reasons we are being persecuted for, which are really the most wonderful blessings a person can be given in life! 

First of all, we're being persecuted for living godly lives.  That's a good thing!  That means that people are seeing Jesus in us as we live our lives; we're being an effective light and witness for Him in this dark world (Matthew 5:14-16).  We're being "the only Bible some people may ever read", as one of my favorite sayings goes.  It means you're doing things right, my friend.  We want people to see that we are different because someday they just might ask us why and then we'll have the blessed opportunity to share the good news of Christ with them (1 Peter 3:14-16)!

Yes, we might often be persecuted for our belief in the truth of God and His Word.  Well praise the Lord that He opened our eyes to see and understand this truth!!

And sure, we may be persecuted because we believe and trust in Jesus Christ, who saved us from all our sins by His perfect sacrifice and now have an eternal home awaiting us in heaven with Him forever.  Hello!  Thanks be to God the Father for this most precious gift of His Son as our Savior, and to top it all off, heaven!!!  Need I say more about the blessings?  I think not.

But now, how do we pick ourselves back up and keep on going in life, knowing it probably won't be long before we're faced with another form of persecution again?  Just look at what God's Word says in our Bible reading for today.  In 2 Timothy 3:12-15 it says to keep on living a godly life in Christ, continuing to live according to what we know to be true, which is God's Word, and which is also the one and only source of true happiness and wisdom and meaning for this life.  Not to mention the life to come!  So keep on being a witness for Christ.  The way is hard and sometimes lonely, but we have God who goes before and with us and keeps us always in His loving, all-powerful care.  Let Him comfort and build you up with His Word and get back out there and shine that Light!

The lost people of the world may ridicule us for what we believe.  Jesus told us to expect it.  So don't be surprised whenever it happens to you.  But also don't forget to remember the glorious, wonderful reasons you have to rejoice, be glad, and feel blessed!!!

A few more Scripture passages on persecution:
1 Peter 4:12-19
1 John 3:13
Acts 5:40-42
Matthew 5:44
Romans 12:14

In Christ,


No comments:

Post a Comment