Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Do yourself a favor, and take some time to sit down and read the stories of people who have been persecuted for their faith. Start with the biblical accounts, of people like Jesus and Stephen. Move on to something historical like Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, then come closer to the present with Jesus Freaks. Go online and read the accounts of people who are meeting Jesus in their dreams, and sacrificing their safety, families, and lives for the sake of the Gospel. Absorb all of that, and then ask yourself a very important question.
Would I do this?
This is a question that will cause you to consider how much this whole Christianity thing really means to you. Are you willing to say you’re a Christian? Are you willing to sacrifice the time to go to church? Are you willing to serve others? Are you willing to be mocked and scorned for Jesus? Are you willing to lose it all, including your life, for righteousness?
If you’re totally sold out to Jesus, then you will face persecution. It’s a certainty. If you’re a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, then the world will hate you. But the good news is that this world is not your home, and whatever happens, soon you’ll join your brothers and sisters, who suffered before you, in glory. Remember these words, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
1. Have you ever been mocked or scorned for your faith? How did you react to those moments of persecution? How can you prepare yourself to act with the heart of God in the future?
2. How much does your Christianity mean to you? Is Jesus at the center of who you are? Who sits on the throne of your life, and if it’s not Jesus, what will it take to get Him there?
Thank God for your faith, for the opportunity that you have to pursue righteousness, and for giving you something worth dying for. Pray for Christians around the world who are suffering under serious persecution. Pray that they will stand strong for the sake of the gospel, and pray that their faith will shine brightly to their tormentors. Pray that if you ever face the same, God will shine brightly through you.