July 19, 2021 — Who’s going to be Persecuted?

“It seems to me,” I began one morning with Stan, “that there are a lot of people who think reading the Bible is kind of boring.”

“That’s true,” Stan replied, “and I can relate to that perfectly because that is certainly what I thought before I reached the point of finding it really quite exciting.”

“Exciting? Really? Can you give me an example of that?”

“I could give you countless examples, all under the umbrella of what could be more exciting than learning more about God the Father and Jesus the Son, along with the Holy Spirit? But since you asked for one, I will pick the Apostle Paul’s conversion and how that has a daily impact on me and my faith walk.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“As you will remember,” Stan replied, “Paul, then known as Saul, was on his way to Damascus to persecute some Christians when Jesus interrupted his journey, his life, and probably his eternal destination, by asking him why he was persecuting Him.”

Continuing, he added, “While my conversion certainly was not as dramatic as Paul’s, the question of persecution is always at the forefront of my thoughts when I focus on my relationship with God in Christ.”

“That Jesus asks you why you are persecuting Him?” I asked.

“Not so much that,” Stan replied, “as the whole idea of Christian persecution.”

“Christian persecution? In what way?”

“In my life on this side of eternity,” Stan responded, “either I will persecute Jesus by living a life that is opposed to Him, or I will be persecuted by the unbelieving world for living a life that reflects and manifests Him. It’s a question of who is going to be persecuted, and I choose not to persecute Jesus.”

“Do you really think you’re going to be persecuted for your faith as a Christian?” I asked.

“There is persecution against Christians all around us,” Stan replied rather forcefully.  “Some of it is quite subtle, while some is very blatant. If you don’t see it, you may not be looking closely enough.”

“Or, perhaps,” I said, “maybe there isn’t enough about my life to be persecuted for being a Christian.”

“I wasn’t going to say that,” Stan replied, “but I’m glad you did. It’s a valid point we all have to ask ourselves.” 

_______________________________

Bible verses to consider:

And it came about that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And I answered, “Who art Thou, Lord?” And He said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.” Acts of the Apostles 22:6-8.

And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father for your free and gracious gift of salvation and redemption that I was able to accept by faith. Thank you for showing me the truth of the ways in which I persecute you by not living the Christian life you intend. Please forgive that foolishness. And please help me to follow every step of your lead so that I do, indeed, live the Christian life you intend for me. You know and I know that your church is being and will be persecuted. Please help me in manifesting the Risen Christ so that there is adequate ground to be persecuted as a Christian! And when the persecution comes, I ask for your strength to endure it all in ways that  are pleasing to you. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this:  If you have the assurance of spending eternity in God’s presence because you have accepted by faith His free and gracious gift, is there enough evidence in your life to persecute you for being a Christian? If answering that question raises doubts in your mind, what is that all about? Have you ever witnessed Christians being persecuted for their faith? If yes, did you say or do anything about it? Why or why not? Are you prepared to be persecuted for your faith? How does a person prepare for that?

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