4 Facts About Persecution
What’s so Great About Suffering?
“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 5:11-12
Persecution is when people say and do bad things to you because you believe in Jesus. Why should we rejoice if people kick us out of our home, beat us, or even kill us? Today, many followers of Jesus are persecuted. Here are a few points that give us God’s perspective on persecution.
1. Christ’s Followers Should Expect Persecution
Jesus told his followers, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Jesus did not come to earth to become popular, but to die. He did not promise us an easy, trouble-free life, nor did he model this kind of life. The Apostle Paul went on to say, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
2. God Shapes Our Character through Persecution
Just as coal becomes a diamond through tremendous pressure, God develops us and makes us mature through trials. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4). God does not say it will be pleasant. In fact, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
3. We Experience Christ More Closely Because of It
“That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death” (Philippians 3:10). Often we just want the “good stuff” that comes from following Christ. Yet the Apostle Paul tells us clearly that in suffering, we actually have fellowship with Christ. Even for those who don’t face literal death for Jesus’ sake, we are called to die daily to our flesh and our own desires (Colossians 3:3-5, Galatians 2:20).
4. The Rewards are Eternal
There was no earthly benefit for Jesus’ first followers. Almost all of them were killed for their faith (Hebrews 11:35-40). Yet these followers, along with you and I, will experience eternal life with God and have joy beyond description. God’s word says “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory [God] will reveal to us later.” (Romans 8:18). We can all look forward to the reward of being with God when we continue to believe in Him despite trouble and persecution.
Pray this week:
For the faith to believe that God’s plan is perfect, even if you are being persecuted for the sake of the gospel.
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