but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; [2 cor 6:4-5]
hard to imagine living in the midst of physical persecution.
hard to imagine thinking about my wife being persecuted.
hard to imagine what it would be like for our church, matthias, if we lived in a country where persecution was a normal way of life.
persecution is not random, unforeseen, or by chance in our world that longs for us to shut up and sit down. it is planned, purposed, and designed by our enemy to make us quit. but our great God – has a greater purpose. endurance!
not sure when physical persecution will become a part of our lives, but it will. maybe not in your lifetime, but in a lifetime you care about it will. (kids, grandkids, great-grandkids) and, it is already a reality in many, many places around our world. in those places, it does change the church and it does change believers.
the church has always thrived in persecution. it doesn’t make logical sense, but go do a little research in church history and you will see – it thrives. not only the church, but believers thrive and are transformed. many abandon the church, overall numbers may decrease, but believers increase and are transformed. why?
why does persecution advance the church and believers?
great question. below are few verses i would encourage you to meditate on today as you ask God that question. the truth is, if you start living and speaking the truth and love of Jesus, you will be persecuted. you may not get your head removed from your shoulders in the next week. but, you will be persecuted. when that persecution happens on the outside of your life, what does God promise for the inside. read, meditate, and pray on three things today. 1) God reveal to me the joy and fruit of being persecuted for your name! 2) give me your Spirit’s power to be humbly bold for your name. 3) lead me to pray for brothers and sisters who are facing this today. (maybe begin in nepal. click here to see.)
“blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [matt 5:10-12]
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. but rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. if you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. [1 pet 4:12-14]
and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. [1 pet 5:10]
we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. for we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. so death is at work in us, but life in you. [2 cor 4:8-12]
in this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [1 pet 1:6-7]
~ john ryan