7 truths about persecution
By Kyle Patterson
It’s been estimated that more people are being martyred for their faith today than at any time in history. Recent estimates by researchers stated up to 90,000 people are martyred for their Christian faith every single year. The truth is the Bible has a lot to say about it. Here are 7 truths to hopefully contribute to the conversation and help us process what are brothers and sisters around the world are enduring for Christ.
Persecution tests our faith
Jesus said when persecution comes, some people will fall away from the faith. It can be costly to follow Jesus. For some it, their faith will cost them their lives. There are a specific number of martyrs spoken of in the book of Revelation that must die before the coming of Christ. But when we have Christ in his proper place as our exceeding great reward, nothing can separate us from his love. So even in the most trying of situations, God is very present help to us and we are empowered by grace to endure the time of testing.
It reveals our hearts
In America we are typically thinking, “what’s in it for me?” We bring those prevailing narratives of our culture into our relationship with God sometimes, so when we hear that faith can be costly, our motives are revealed. Are we in this for God or are we following Jesus as a means to another end, besides him? Persecution tests us by removing the false comforts, props and showing us our motives. Are we serving God for God or are we serving God for us and what he can do for us or give to us?
Serves as a catalyst for the great commission
The church scatters when there is persecution. When the church in Acts was persecuted they were forced to flee for their lives. Because of this the church grew, the gospel spread and eventually made it through all of Asia and the known world of the time. Would this have happened without persecution? Possibly not. Certainly not as fast as it did. God used the evil of persecution to propel his gospel.
Jesus told us that if we want to live a godly life, we will be persecuted. The message of the cross is offensive and foolishness to some, but to us it is the power of God unto salvation. If the religious leaders of the day crucified our Lord for doing good deeds and having compassion on people, they’ll do the same to us, imperfect followers of Jesus.
Increases our rewards in heaven
Jesus says that he is with us in the midst of it and he will reward us with eternal blessings for enduring faithfully. He also promised that he would acknowledge, not deny us, before his Father in Heaven. And that to me is worth it all.
When a believer stays true to their beliefs in the midst of pain and loss, it reveals Jesus to a watching world. When we are faithful in our witness of Jesus, it convicts others because they see our love for him. If we are willing to suffer and even die for our faith, our sincerity is tested, Jesus is glorified, and hearts are convicted. People take a closer look at something that we would even be willing to give our lives in forgiveness and love for our enemies. When we are reviled, we revile not but answer with a blessing. That’s powerful.
Encourages the church
When believers hear about what other believers are enduring and staying faithful to Jesus, the rest of the church can be encouraged. The truth is there are people going through worse situations than you are and yet loving God and enduring for his Name’s sake.