Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Christianity is the most persecuted religion on the planet. It is illegal or severely restricted in 51 countries and more than 200 million Christians every day in over 60 nations face persecution- 60% of these are children.
As westerners we can become oblivious to persecution. When i was little, each night my Mum would present a small set of cards before me. On each card was a picture of a persecuted christian from somewhere around the world, their story and prayer points. Each night we would work take one card and pray for the individual. My ten year old heart ached for these people, for their families and their broken country and its inhabitants. I was so deeply affected- this child like faith, my limited knowledge and naivety made me so acutely aware of the utter tumult being experienced. I was free to praise God, to say His name, to go to church and the concept that people were being killed for such things was beyond my thinking. Ten years down the line, life ushers you away from issues and i guess everything becomes focused on self. Jobs, money, marriage etc. Because persecution isn’t happening on our doorsteps, because its not a relative suffering, maybe we just forget about it. Because we hear of war and death on the news so often we turn a blind eye. Our hearts have hardened perhaps.
We, i doubt, know the true pain of persecution. We may have been mocked, sniggered at, or felt rejected, but, we live in a country where we are free to proclaim our religion. All throughout the old testament people were persecuted on behalf of their faith. Paul was stoned, Stephen was put to death, the apostles were arrested. Jesus has said in the bible that anyone who is a christian and living their life for His glory, will experience persecution. We are to expect it.
“Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also”.
This persecution may be from, unbelievers, government, family members christians etc.
However, We are NOT alone. We will find strength in our weakness, and the kingdom of God is promised for us. This is the source of comfort which allows us to press on, to realise that suffering is temporary and we have the hope of heaven.
From Pauls lips came the words: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
Father, may we come to truly understand that to live is Christ and to die is gain. You suffered the ultimate death on the cross, and may we live in the light of your wonderful glory with the confidence to proclaim Your name.
If you haven’t already check out open doors, the stories are incredibly humbling…especially this one- http://www.opendoorsusa.org/persecution/christian-martyrs-stories/tapan-kumar-roy