Summary: We live in a world that is loath to experience any persecution for the sake of righteousness, truth and enduring freedom. No wonder we see reports on TV that continually promotes victimology in their daily reports. However, Jesus reminds Christians that
How To Respond To Persecution (John 15:20)
We live in a world that is loath to experience any persecution. Few seem willing to endure hardship for the sake of righteousness, truth and enduring freedom. No wonder CNN and the New York Times continually promotes victimology in their daily reports. However, Jesus reminds Christians that persecution is a part of abiding in Him.
Illustration:Richard Foster, in his Celebrration of Discipline, tells the story of a medieval monk who was unjustly accused of various offenses. One day the monk looked out the window and saw a dog biting and tearing a rug hanging out to dry. God said to the monk,
"That is what is happening to your reputation. But if you can trust me, I will care for you - reputation and all."
When our reputation is being bitten and torn, we need to trust God to restore, repair and reconstruct.
Peter wrote, "But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you follow his steps. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threat. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." (I Pet 2:20,21,23)
John 15:20 "Remember the words I spoke to you: ’No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also."
Illustration: In ancient Rome, crowds by the tens of thousands would gather in the Colosseum to watch as Christians were torn apart by wild animals. Paul Rader, commenting on his visit to this famous landmark, said, "I stood uncovered to the heavens above, where He sits for whom they gladly died, and asked myself, ’Would I, could I, die for Him tonight to get this gospel to the ends of the earth?’" Rader continued, "I prayed most fervently in that Roman arena for the spirit of a martyr, and for the working of the Holy Spirit in my heart, as He worked in Paul’s heart when He brought him on his handcuffed way to Rome." Those early Christians "lived on the threshold of heaven, within a heartbeat of home, no possessions to hold them back."
Our Daily Bread.
1. PERSECUTION FOSTERS MATURITY - Realize that persecution of the Godly is a normal part of the maturing process for every Christian. Jesus reminded us that a part of following Him is to identify with Him even in His suffering.
"For consider Him who endured such suffering of sinners against Himself lest you be worried and faint in your hearts." (Heb. 12:3)
The most mature Christians are those who are willing to continually take up their cross and follow Christ regardless of the pain, shame or adversity.
Remember that God is working His will in ways that we cannot see or appreciate at the time.
Illustration: One old hymn says, "Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free. No there’s a cross for everyone and there’s a cross for me!"
As we follow Jesus we will have to experience more of the pains, shame, and hardships as we are called to carry our own cross and follow Him. God uses people who have shown themselves to be faithful in little things and rewards them proportionate to their endurance under hardships. (Luke 16:10)
2. DESPISING PERSECUTION IS SELF-INJURIOUS - Jesus said, "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. (John 15:20) By complaining or shirking from hardships, persecutions, or criticisms we are in effect distancing ourselves from identifying with all aspects of Christ.
We must remember that no servant is greater than His master, but every pupil when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)
A part of growing into a useful servant is enduring the suffering, shame, and indignities that Jesus went through. This process is meant for our benefit to produce greater maturity, godliness, and insight into His will for our lives.
Job said, "When I am tried I will come forth as gold." We too need to have this optimistic outlook for the stresses that we face as this will help us triumph through the most difficult of circumstances.
3. YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN BEING PERSECUTED - Let remember the numerous examples of people who endured persecutions for the sake of Christ throughout history.
Heb. 11:35-38 says, "Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them."