Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Persecution According to the Bible

Persecution is honestly too strong a term when it comes to Christians being mocked, mistreated, or discriminated against for their beliefs in America. What Christians "suffer" in America for expressing their faith is very mild compared to what the early apostles suffered and what many Christians today endure in other countries who do not have religious freedom. If you are from one of those countries, you understand more than I do about being persecuted.

In America, Christians who express their faith (in various ways) are basically disliked, avoided, and discounted by others, or discriminated against in the workplace, schools, sports, etc. Christianity as a whole is mocked on the internet, radio, magazines, TV, and in movies. Christians are rarely portrayed or represented fairly because unbelievers do not understand them, nor can they (I Cor. 2:14). But this cannot be compared to Christian persecution in other countries where people do not have religious freedom. Believers are beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and killed for their faith. Nonetheless, the same scriptures apply to all Christians in every country, whether they experience mild or the most extreme forms of persecution.

The Bible teaches that Christians who are righteous, godly, show good conduct, and do good will suffer persecution. They will be reviled, falsely accused, hated, have conflict, be mistreated, endure hardship, get threatened, and be defamed (Matt. 5:10-12; II Tim. 3:12; I Peter 3:13-17).

However, Christians have enlisted in the army of the Lord and are expected to "endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (II Tim. 2:3,4, NKJV) Part of the example that Jesus Christ left us was the persecution and suffering that He went through on our behalf (I Peter 2:21). Jesus taught that believers are not better than He is and since He was persecuted, they too would be persecuted. He said Christians would be hated because people in the world hated Him (John 15:18-20). Believers are expected to have conflict in this world on behalf of Christ (Phil. 1:29,30).

Even though Christians are expected to face mistreatment and conflict for being bold as witnesses for Christ, they are encouraged to not be ashamed of the gospel. They are told not to be afraid or troubled at threats and always seek to please God - not men - in what they speak (I Thes. 2:2-4; II Tim. 1:8-12; I Peter 3:13-16; I Peter 4:16-18).

Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. - I Peter 4:19, NKJV

Whether you are from America or other "free" countries or from godless nations who torture and kill Christians, be encouraged that you are serving the Creator. Your calling in life is to be accountable to God - not people, and your eternal destiny awaits. This life is the blink of an eye compared to eternity in the presence of the Almighty; so be strong, all who believe and truly serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

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