Persecution of The Faithful

Matthew 5:10-12 ESV

“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.”

Hated and Persecuted

If we, as Christ’s followers, are walking in close fellowship with our Lord, and if we are walking in holiness and in righteousness, though not necessarily in sinless perfection, but if we are serving the Lord with our lives, and not our sinful flesh, and if our lives are surrendered to Christ to do his will for our lives, we are going to be hated and persecuted, even by others who call themselves Christians, and even by pastors of what are called churches.

For, evil hates good. Wickedness despises righteousness. The devil abhors God/Jesus Christ. So, if you are living a righteous and holy life, those who are still living for the pleasures of the flesh are not going to want to hang out with you. They may avoid you entirely. Or they may oppose you fiercely. Sometimes people oppose through silent objection where they just ignore you, while others may oppose vehemently with great passion and purpose.

I have had some people yell and scream at me, and some who even wanted me dead for teaching what the Scriptures teach. And they were my friends. I have had others who just avoided me and who put me out of their lives. I have had people tell lies about me and others who verbally attacked me for telling the truth, and some who attacked my character or who did things against me to cause me suffering – all because I am teaching the truth.

Now, I am not a perfect person. I am not sinless. But I am walking in obedience to my Lord and to his commands, and I am not walking in sin. So I am certainly not claiming that all rejections of me are because I am teaching the Scriptures, but most of them are, or they are because I am standing for what is right and for truth in a day and time when so many are not, not even within the gatherings of what is called church.

But we who do suffer unjustly for the sake of righteousness, and for the sake of the gospel, and for the name of Jesus, we should consider ourselves blessed of God, even when we are reviled and people say all manner of evil against us and when they falsely accuse us of evil we did not commit. In fact, we are to rejoice and be glad, for our reward is great in heaven, for we are in good company, for they persecuted the prophets who were before us.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; Jn 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Jn 17:14; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]

The Church in America

Jesus Christ did not promise us an easy life. He promised us that we would be hated and persecuted as he was, and that as they treated him, so would they treat us. And who were his greatest persecutors? Yes, they were the Jews, but beyond that, who were they? They were the religious rulers in the temple of God who were hypocrites, for they were trying to look righteous on the outside while they were filled with wickedness inside.

And in America, where so many pastors of churches have now partnered with the world and with the government and with big business, and so they are compromising the truth of the gospel in order to draw in large crowds of people into their gatherings from the world, don’t be surprised if pastors are some of your greatest opponents and if church people become your enemies and not your friends. For not everyone has true faith in Jesus Christ.

I am on social media, more specifically Facebook, which is an internet site where people can connect with other people, usually people they have known over the course of their lives, but not always. And probably 95% of my friends on Facebook profess faith in Jesus Christ. And 10% are pastors (or retired pastors) or missionaries or family members of pastors or missionaries. But only about 10% of my Facebook friends regularly post anything about Jesus or about their faith and what they are learning from the Lord, and most of them are not the pastors or the missionaries.

Yet, because of the nature of social media, this right now is open wide for us Christians to be sharing the gospel of Christ and to be encouraging one another in our walks of faith, which is what we are all supposed to be doing. So, why aren’t they? Especially those who are pastors and missionaries, why aren’t they sharing Jesus Christ on social media, which they can make public to the world? Why are they, instead, just talking about the same things that those who make no profession of faith in Christ are talking about? And why are most of them not encouraging those who are sharing Christ?

This really is not unusual, though. I would say that my Facebook friends’ list is probably a good representation of where the church is, overall, here in America. It is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore, for so much of the church has become like the world, and they are blending right in with the world, and they are not standing out for Jesus Christ and for his gospel, and that is a tragedy of enormous proportions! And this contributes to the persecution of those who are following Jesus Christ.

The Encouragement

The Lord Jesus promised us that it would be this way, especially the closer we are to his return. So this should not surprise us that we are living in the age of rebellion and that the church, at least here in America, is so much like the description of the church in Laodicea, as recorded for us in Revelation 3. And we should also not let it dishearten and discourage us, though we should grieve over the condition of the church, at least as it is here in America, and we should be praying to God for revival of his church.

And we should be encouraged, for blessed are we who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for ours is the kingdom of heaven. And we should keep praying fervently for the salvation, not just of those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but for the salvation of all people professing faith in Jesus but who have never died with Christ to sin and so they are not living to him and to his righteousness. And we need to pray for the salvation of our family members, too, who are not walking by faith in Jesus Christ.

And we should never give up hope, even when it sometimes seems so hopeless with so many people professing faith in Jesus living no differently from the people of the world or who are neither hot nor cold for Jesus Christ, but who are lukewarm and who are apathetic about their relationships with Christ and about their witness for him to all who need to know the Lord before Jesus returns. For these things must take place before Jesus returns. But please know that not everyone who professes faith in Jesus is going to be with our Lord for eternity. So please know what the Scriptures teach.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:44; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

‘Til The Storm Passes By

By Thomas Mosie Lister

In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry
Keep me safe till the storm passes by

Many times Satan whispered
There is no use to try
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by
But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies

Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand
Keep me safe till the storm passes by

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