“If the world hates you, you will know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I have spoken to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15: 18 – 20.)
Jesus was persecuted relentlessly during his earthly ministry. He was slandered publicly and privately. He was shunned by many, and ridiculed, even by members of his own family. His message was so offensive that he was nearly stoned to death on a number of occasions. Eventually, despite his miraculous feats, and his immeasurable love, Jesus Christ was abandoned by his closest friends; he was bound and beaten; spit upon and crucified. Those who choose to follow him can expect to experience similar forms of persecution.
Eleven of the twelve disciples were brutally martyred for their unwavering faith (the twelfth was imprisoned until his eventual death.) Each disciple paid the ultimate price for fearlessly spreading the gospel throughout the known world. Although physical peril is a common type of persecution, it comes in many other forms. One day as I sat studying in the local coffee shop, I began talking with a Muslim friend concerning the tenants of the Christian faith. As I presented her with the gospel, a women sitting next to us became visibly upset. Not knowing that we were already friends, she yelled “Can’t you see she doesn’t want to talk to you about that?” The woman continued to verbally harass me, making every effort to subvert the conversation. In the midst of the pestering, I looked at my friend and said, “This is the type of persecution that occurs when you become a believer.” Eventually the woman became so disruptive that we had to end our discussion.
Persecution is an inevitable consequence of genuine faith. If we are not experiencing some kind of persecution, then perhaps we are keeping our beliefs hidden away; choosing safety and security above obedience to the Lord. Still there are those who boldly spread the gospel message; making every effort to lead others to God. These individuals can expect to be persecuted. Persecution in any form isn’t very pleasant; yet it is a reminder that we are earnestly following in the footsteps of our teacher, our master, and our friend.
“Lord Heavenly Father, provide us with opportunities to preach the gospel to others. May we reach out to those who might become our brothers and sisters. Strengthen us when we encounter persecution; that we might stand firm in the faith. Give us courage to boldly speak the truth; that we would continue to emulate our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.