Persecuted pt.2

It’s Monday Grace!

If you follow Jesus, you will be persecuted. Some people make that statement. Two other statements follow. First, if you are not persecuted, you must not be following Jesus. Second, if you feel persecuted, you must be following Jesus.

Now, some people will quickly notice the logical error in the above paragraph. The second following statement is not correct. Not all persecuted people are following Jesus. As I have said before, some people face opposition and negative feedback because they are jerks. They are not kind, so they don’t receive kindness. They don’t listen, so others don’t listen to them. They are aggressive and mean-spirited and receive the same back. And, of course, many have been persecuted who have no part of the Christian faith.

The first following statement is true only if the premise is true. In other words, if it is true that all who follow Jesus will be persecuted at all times, then those who are not persecuted must not be following Jesus. But is that premise true? Are all those who follow Jesus persecuted all the time? Of course not.

Persecution of Christians is real. There are many believers who suffer and die for their faith every year. Most of those are not in the US, nor in other western countries. Yes, it does happen here. Perhaps it is happening more and will happen more. But it is possible for your walk with the Lord to be pleasant, even in this world.

And, in those times when you do suffer for your faith, you are blessed. Notice how Jesus defines this persecution:

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11–12 (NKJV)

When they say evil against you falsely. Not when you deserve what they say. When they say it because of your connection with Jesus, for His sake. Not because you can’t get your way.

I remember years ago when we were in the legalist group under the teacher and were given a spiritual gift test. It was interesting how the most aggressive and obnoxious people seemed to come out as prophets or exhorters. In other words, God had given them the right to speak into your life. Yikes! These people enjoyed their gift too much, I thought. And, frankly, I seriously doubted that was their gift at all.

The real prophets of God were persecuted throughout history because they went into dangerous situations and spoke boldly the word of the Lord. They knew that the danger was there and they accepted it because the Lord had spoken to them. And those who suffered were specially blessed by the Lord.

Our little church has struggled to get a building built. We have money, but we can’t seem to get through the bureaucracy, the red tape. It’s easy to say that this is persecution, but I don’t think it is. Homeowners, business owners, and others in our area have the same struggle. It can take years and thousands of dollars to navigate the government requirements, no matter who you are. That’s not what Jesus is talking about.

Instead, as I said last week, Jesus is talking about following Him. He calls us to follow Him. If that costs us, if we suffer in our relationships or jobs or community, because we follow Jesus, then we should know that He knows. He is with us and cares about us. We will be blessed with His presence and comfort as we suffer for following Him.

Our call under grace is to receive what Jesus has done for us and follow Him. Beyond that, the results of our efforts or the consequences we face, don’t matter. We are called to be faithful, to follow Him because we believe He is our Lord and God. If we suffer, we suffer. If we do not suffer, we are grateful. Whatever happens, we trust that He knows and is with us. Our reward is Him.


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3 responses to “Persecuted pt.2

  1. Mark

    Great post, I think this fits a lot with the Narcissistic tendencies of legalistic churches. They abuse and condemn those in their midst who would challenge them and when they face any resistance whatsoever, it is persecution. Recent SBC events come to mind. They knew about women being abused for decades, and when those women finally got their voice to a minor extent the denomination felt intense scrutiny for their lack of action. Their countermeasure was to call this an “attack of Satan”. It’s quite the opposite. It’s Jesus shining a light into the darkest places and calling his church to account. This is also why it’s a double-whammy for Narcissists in churches. God is on their side and any discipline God might use to turn them from their wickedness is interpreted to be persecution from Satan because they’re standing in the gap with boldness.

    Yes, growing up in a legalistic denomination, we were highly judgmental of Christians in other denominations and considered any backlash against that to be persecution – others couldn’t stand our “purity”. When people left our church, it was because some dark sin had taken root and they couldn’t stand being in our light. When in fact it was what you said – judgmental jerks emboldened by their so-called persecution trying to manipulate others.

    • Mark, I considered writing that the only real persecution I have ever experienced has come from within the church. Certainly the abuse Jesus and the apostles suffered began in the religious community. Most of the time, the world simply doesn’t care. Not so true for believers around the world, I suppose, but in these “christianized” western nations the persecution often comes from what seems like within.

      • Mark

        I would say that the only systematic persecution I’ve suffered was in church. There have definitely been other forms of “microagressions” for my religious positions, but not in any sense major or systemic.

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