Hopefully we’ve all been able to rejoice over the last days in the good news of Jesus’ coming to earth. The events surrounding the very first Christmas are very amazing indeed and well worth remembering! There’s no better news known to mankind than that Jesus Himself came to earth to save us from our sin. Thank You, Lord, for coming!
But even this glorious and beautiful story is surrounded by a stark reality, cruel enough to make us all shudder. No sooner was our Saviour born, than the powers of darkness stirred, and King Herod decided to do a very horrible thing. As he felt threatened by this new king, he took the awful measure of killing every male infant in the entire region surrounding Bethlehem. What incredible grief there must have been for all those young mothers and their families! Yet Jesus was born and kept safe in Egypt, until the time came for Him to return to His homeland.
As the world and the enemy have hated Jesus, so there’s been a historical enmity against God’s chosen nation Israel. The ongoing Anti-Semitism throughout the ages is impossible to explain apart from the biblical understanding that the Jews truly are God’s people, and that their very existence on earth declares the reality of God’s existence in heaven. The story goes that, when French philosopher Blaise Pascal was asked by King Louis XIV of France to give proof of the supernatural, he answered “Why, the Jews, your Majesty- the Jews.”
Now we, as the Church, face a similar fate. Author G.K. Chesterton observed that there exists a ‘halo of persecution which surrounds the Church’. Because we, as God’s children, declare that the Saviour has come, there’s a similar reaction, which defies reason - the world hates the Church. And as the world in which we live increasingly chooses to embrace the darkness and shun the light, that hatred for God and His people is only likely to increase.
Is all of this bad news? It might certainly be sobering, but I believe it isn’t singularly bad. As Christ came the first time, and, despite persecution, shone a bright light, so we have an amazing opportunity to shine the light of Jesus in a sometimes very dark world. I believe Jesus wouldn’t want us to be afraid of the world’s hatred, but rather have us remember that we truly belong to Him, and that knowing Him and representing Him are immense privileges! If anything, persecution affirms that God is real, that He’s with us, and that one day we will live forever with Him!
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that I belong to You. Please help me not to fear the possibility, or even the reality, of the world’s hatred. I also ask that You will be close to those Christians who suffer persecution. And will You help the Jews who face hatred in the form of Anti-Semitism. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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