The Surprising Truth About Persecution

The Surprising Truth About Persecution November 9, 2018

Persecution doesn’t feel good at the time, but it’s actually a very good thing for the believer.

All the Godly

The Apostle Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515.

The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12), while at the same time, “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim3:13). I think Paul wanted Timothy to know that because he had likely experienced persecution. He knew what they did to Jesus, Stephen (the deacon), and James, and maybe he thought he’d be next! By Paul saying, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12), he was saying that it’s going to be the norm for every believer. The surprising thing would be if a believer never experienced persecution. Persecution, while being painful, is a testament to your faith being seen or heard by the world. Paul knew what it felt like, writing that they were being “persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4:9). When persecuted, they were not forsaken; when struck down, they got back up. They could say, even though “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me” (Psalm 129:2).

Not Unusual

Don’t be surprised to suffer for your faith, but rather be surprised if you’ve never suffered for it. One reason might be you’re not sharing your faith or maybe you’re not living your faith, and no one can see any difference in you than in those in the world. If that’s true, then it’s time to examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith, because good works are the fruit of salvation (Eph 2:20; James 2:14-26), even though they’re not the root of salvation (Acts 4:12; Eph 2:8-9). Cleary, persecution is to be expected. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:10-12). Jesus didn’t say “if others revile you and persecute you,” but “when others revile you and persecute you,” so it’s not a matter of if but when you are persecuted, but this persecution is for His account, not ours. The prophets didn’t suffer persecution for their own message, but that which comes from the Word of God. Our response shouldn’t be, “Please Lord, take this away,” but we should “rejoice and be glad.” We rejoice, not so much for the rewards, but we rejoice we’re being persecuted like the prophets of old. That’s pretty good company, but remember, it’s not them or us that people hate; it is the message. The postal carrier may bring the bills, but their debt is owed to their creditors, not the postal carrier, so it’s not the messenger they really hate but the message itself. This means we should not take it as personally, but even so, you must take it and not respond in kind.

The Unusual

Jesus reminded the disciples that “A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20). This means we cannot avoid persecution. The Apostle Paul wanted to know Christ so desperately, that he was willing to enter into His sufferings, so “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10). The point being, “we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17b), but it’s more than that. If your friend shares his suffering with you, you know him better; likewise, if you share your pain with your friend, she is going to know you better because of it. Suffering for Christ’s name’s sake is a great way to know Him better. This doesn’t mean we seek it out, but it does mean we see it as a blessing, so “let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Pet 4:19). Why? Because “it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Pet 3:17).

Martyrs Syndrome

Persecution is not a good thing when someone has a “martyr’s complex.” That is, they actually go out and look for persecution, but the Bible never teaches this. Even though every Christian cannot avoid persecution, it does not mean we should seek it out. That’s not what persecution really is. That’s just being obnoxious. There is no cause for sharing Christ and being antagonistic. Jesus never tried to cram His beliefs down anyone’s throat. He said that whosoever may come, can come. It doesn’t say, make people come. God the Father draws people to Himself, but only through Christ (John 6:44). The Prodigal Father didn’t put out an APB for his son and go looking for him. He waited and watched for the son to come to Him. Even now, while it is still called today (2 Cor 6:2), Jesus Christ says to you, and He says to all, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).

Conclusion

The Apostle Peter’s encouraging words to every persecuted believer is, if you are persecuted for His name’s sake, “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet 4:13), and even better, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet 4:14). Don’t you want that? Of course, you don’t seek out persecution to have “the Spirit of glory and of God” resting upon you. If you do, then you’re not really being persecuted for His name’s sake but for your own sake, and that’s not acceptable to God. It’s not persecution if someone’s being “holier than thou,” or Bible-bashing people. That’s plain being obnoxious. And that’s not a good thing.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • pud

    Why is it jack that you’re still so delusional regarding the religious lunatic “paul” who had psychotic visions, persecuted people and wrote 7 ignorant delusional letters to fellow cult members? Why would any RATIONAL person accept as FACT the uttering of someone you don’t know, know nothing about and who was no different than the crazy person on the subway platform? How much absurd hearsay to you consume on a regular basis?

    “It’s not persecution if someone’s being “holier than thou,” or Bible-bashing people. That’s plain being obnoxious. And that’s not a good thing.”

    No jack, “bible bashing” is demonstrating a respect for the TRUTH. It is being a champion for the stupid, ignorant and most importantly children who have been indoctrinated into your cult through your terrorist tactics of guilt, shame and fear. You should be persecuted just like all bad ideas should be persecuted. That’s how the human species advances and forges a way out of your world of ignorance, wish thinking and superstition. Ridiculing the ridiculous should be everyones priority in life for it’s the only way stupid ideas get purged. Religion is the mother of all stupid ideas.

    On a separate subject jack…Why are you so impotent and feeble that you can’t defend your delusional and psychotic “beliefs” against my reason and facts? Why do you cower in fear jack? There’s a handful of truly psychotic people who attempt to defend your delusional cult but here you are, a cult leader, who is absolutely terrified to respond to my challenges…why jack? Why are you so cowardly that you can only write these ridiculous essays and preach to 90 year old hayseeds from behind your shrinking pulpit?

  • HappinessPursuit

    If I had never gone through trials and sufferings, I’d be less useful of a person today.

    • CloudNine

      What a big heart you have. God Bless!

  • CloudNine

    1 Corinthians 2:14, New International Version

    The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

  • Bezukhov

    It seems that the persecution Christians faced in the 1st and 2nd century is markedly different from the persecution Christians face today. Back then it was all “Offer a sacrifice to the Emperor or you’ll be thrown to the lions!” Today it’s all about “You know, we’re Christians so that means you are to bow down and submit to us and let us rule over you. If you don’t, that means you’re persecuting us.”

    • Truthteller

      Oh I see. I misread you. Why don’t you practice some of that famous tolerance some atheists preach?

      Christians don’t bow down to other people/Christians. Only to God.

      Too bad you couldn’t make the intellectual distinction.

      What’s next? Are you going to take an assault rifle like Devin Kelley did and shoot Christians down because they believe love is a better standard than tolerance. Or are you just content with your snide remarks?

      Love is a better standard. Love cares and love cares enough to tell the truth. You can let a lot of evil get away with things when you put mere tolerance in love’s place.

      Look at Kelley gunning down 26 church goers. That doesn’t count as persecution?

      • Look at the Fundamentalist pastors that commit murder and other violent crimes like rape. (https://brucegerencser.net). Why are you singling out one deranged atheist when there is probably a greater percentage of deranged Fundamentalists than there are atheists?

        Atheist humanism is a rational position. You know very little about rationalism, logic and empirical evidence to support your claims, but you have been spouting nonsense all over this website. Thank goodness rational atheists visit this blog.

        • Truthteller

          Not interested in atheist polemics.

          I already know people are sinners. You are the one in denial of it.

          Ciao.

          • “Sin” is a nonsense religious concept to keep people in religious bondage to religious nonsense. You are the one who is evil. You are a Fundamentalist propagandist. Fortunately, not all Christians are like you.

    • Truthteller

      Be careful. We have our own “Kelleys” right here on this blog. Read the militant atheists that post on here on a regular basis.

      They throw word stones. Verbally assaulting believers as if they are superior to them and calling them lunatics and mentally ill IS persecution and it goes on all over social media like this.

      The militants are not moderate. They don’t hesitate to verbally disparage Christians on the Net thinking they will get away with it and that verbal abuse IS persecution.

      Persecution is similar to discrimination and is still alive in this world because evil still exists in the human heart.

      Why are Christians evil when some of them are the ones who turned their hearts over to God to be born again and have evil eradicated in themselves?

      Some of the Christians might have a problem understanding what God requires of them more exactly but that is not as bad as self serving denial and outright rebellion against Him.

      Even a spiritual person can take time to mature.

      Only the unobservant expect immediate Christian perfection. Christ gives an earnest deposit of the Spirit after that a Christian has to study to be approved by God and learn to feed himself spiritually from God’s Word but does everyone do that?

      No. Lots of people don’t bother to try to master God’s perspective. But that doesn’t stop them from opining about God subjects they do not understand. Instead they lack humility and put themselves in God’s place opining and judging others without taking stock of their own sinful inadequacies and admitting to them first.

      Sin is irrefutable. Prisons, government, the law, police men, mental institutions, war, etc. They all exist because of the problem of sin in the human heart.

      Some people believe God when He says sin exists and are willing to allow Him to do something about it. They cooperate with Him to varying degrees of success.

      But this evil world doesn’t like to let a person take the time to change and mature and grow up spiritually in Christ.

      No the evil minded people who refuse to obey God always look for immediate spiritual perfection.

      They say because you, you Christian, failed then I will not believe.

      How ironic.

      Why would a person genuinely trying to be good like Christ allow another person’s failure to control himself or allow himself to make excuses?

      But a lot of people do. Look at Gandhi. He said I like Christ but not the Christians.
      And refused to become a follower of Jesus.

      But a Christian knows to look at Christ. Christ is the true role model not his followers. They are still works in progress.

      I see it all the time. People denying Jesus existed so they can deny the greatest role model that ever lived and become spiritual failures themselves and not be born again as Jesus says we MUST do in John 3.

      Some want to deny their own spiritual failure so badly that they take their failure out on believers like Devin Kelley did. Don’t the people with issues always take their issues out on others? If they were secure in themselves what need to protest and insult and sometimes kill people they cannot control?

      Think about it. Humans are deceived into missing out on being born again spiritually by the world and people who never learned God’s perspective. Instead they acted like blind guides and substituted their own faulty thinking for God’s and that is hubris.

      Thanks for reading. God bless!

    • Jack Wellman

      Pesecution is always in the context of sharing your faith. A faith that can’t be seen will bring no persecution, but all who live God will suffer persectuion, just as Jesus said they did Him, but it was for His Name’s sake, not about us. Its unfair to make blanket statements about “all” and “always,” with respect to anyone.

  • Deona Flores

    Hi Jack, Thank-you for your biblical teaching regarding Christian persecution. Granted the persecution in the early church was expected and severe. Pastors like Richard Wurmand, a Romanian pastor in the twentieth century was severely tortured for 14 years https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wurmbrand). The underground church in Europe and all over the world began as result of persecution. Thus revealing that persecution, even severe is real and present in the twentieth century. Of course my own experiences are far from extreme; being snubbed at work, by one or two people or even most of the small office staff, neighbors ignoring me, an even own family members shut me down regarding the topic of Jesus and his eternal saving grace. Biblical teaching is called for and necessary to those Christians that speak to the the people they care about. We don’t want anyone we care about to spent eternity in hell. Thank-you again for your timely and informed biblical teaching! Deona

    • Kathleen Allen

      Hey I wanna ċhαt with you