I once heard a challenging question. If it was a crime to be a Christian believer would there be enough evidence to convict you? Do we keep such a low profile that no-one out there knows we are a Christian? Are there any truths we are willing to die for?
Jesus never kept it a secret that persecution would come to His followers. He said the world would hate them just as it hated Him. But He wanted them to know that standing up for Him would bring all the blessings of God upon them. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 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 (Matthew 5:10-12, ESV).
Jesus wants us to know that He’s with us through hard times when we suffer for the Gospel. He’s pleased with us and we can have a special joy that can’t be destroyed through circumstances. This is why I love to read testimonies of Christians who’ve gone through dreadful situations and found that Jesus was with them. They’ve proven the truth of being blessed at times like that. The apostle Paul knew about that as he was often ill treated and physically abused as a result of his evangelism ministry. But he regarded it as the greatest privilege to share in the sufferings of Jesus.
I heard Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch evangelist, share that during her experience in a solitary prison cell she was so close to Jesus and enfolded in His love that she hoped that when she was free she wouldn’t lose that closeness.
In small ways I have sometimes known persecution in the form of disapproval, rejection, hostility, and lies which have come because of speaking up for Jesus. It’s not been a very heavy price to pay for all that Jesus gives to me. I know I still have much to learn of how to put approval of my Lord above the discomfort of man’s disapproval. I don’t know what lies ahead in the way of persecution but I understand I need to be prepared. I have this promise of Jesus to lean upon. It will be worth it. I will be blessed right where I am and my reward in heaven will be great.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your wonderful promise that we will inherit every blessing of the Kingdom of Heaven even though we have to go through the suffering of persecution. Help me to care more about pleasing you than getting the affirmation and praise of men and women. One day I want to hear those words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’. Amen.
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