595. The Persecuted Church

“It always amazes me,” Stan began, “how God brings different things together if I’m open to seeing what He has for me.”

“That’s a pretty broad statement,” I responded.  “What have you been looking at?”

“Last night I was reading again the fifteenth chapter of John’s gospel,” Stan replied, “where Jesus is telling His disciples they are going to be persecuted.”

“Persecuted?” I replied.  “Why are they going to be persecuted?”

“Two basic reasons,” Stan said.  “First, because the world hates Jesus.  Second, because the people of the world do not know God the Father who sent Jesus into the world to provide salvation for them.”

“After I closed my Bible for the night,” he continued, “I turned on the television to check to see what was going on in the world.  You’ll never guess what channel came on.”

“Probably not,” I said.  “What was it?”

“The History Channel,” Stan said, “and there was a story about Martin Niemoller.”

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“He was a pastor in Hitler’s Nazi Germany during World War Two,” Stan said.  “I can’t pretend to know a whole lot about him, but he’s best known for something he said about persecution.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“What he said is this,” Stan replied, ‘First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.  Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.  Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out  because I was not a Jew.  Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me’.”

“Powerful!” I replied.  “Makes a person think.”

“Exactly.” Stan replied.  “If I believe what Jesus said about His disciples being persecuted, and I know the world doesn’t know God the Father or Jesus the Son, what am I going to do about it so they do know?”

“Lots to think about,” I replied.

“Amen,” Stan replied.  “Lots to think about.  Lots to pray about.  Lots to do.”

_______________________________________

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  John 15:18, 19.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for loving me.  Thank you for loving the world so much you sent Jesus into the world to provide salvation to all who believe, including me.  Thank you for the warnings about how the world will hate and persecute me because the world does not know you.  I confess that too often I turn a blind eye to the fact of persecution against your church.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me in following every step of your lead to do what I can to help those who are persecuted.  Help me, too, in bringing to the truth those who persecute so they will know and love you and your Son.  And, as a result, they will have lost their reason to persecute.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you believe the church will be and is being persecuted?  If not, why?  Maybe you need to look closer.  If you do believe it, is there anything you can do about it?  Provide assistance to those being persecuted?  Be prepared to be persecuted?  Help lead the persecutors to the truth so the reason for their persecution is ended?  

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