“When we are persecuted, we endure”.
1 Cor 4:12 GNB
Christians are being persecuted in some parts of the world today. It seems to be worst in Pakistan and Nigeria. It used to be bad in the Soviet Union and China but that has all changed. Today there are a hundred and five million Christian believers in China! But persecution is nothing new for Christians.
In the Acts of the Apostles there is the story of the stoning to death of Stephen, one of the seven deacons in Jerusalem. Luke, the author of Acts, tells us, “That very day the church in Jerusalem began to suffer cruel persecution. All the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the provinces of Judaea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1 GNB). So, because of persecution, the gospel spread and the church multiplied. These persecutions in the early church were sporadic. Often minor riots broke out when Paul or other apostles arrived in towns or cities to preach of Jesus. When he returned to Jerusalem he was imprisoned. The attitude of most of the early apostles was that since Jesus died, they had to be prepared to as well. So there developed a saying that went, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”. Paul’s attitude to the persecutions was, “We grin and bear it. And we soldier on”.
Sometimes having faith in Jesus Christ involves one in just that – endurance. Some Christians have to endure abuse at work. Others in the home. Some find themselves clashing with the authorities. Some are thrown into jail. Some are tortured. If being a disciple is relatively easy for you, think of and pray for those who are suffering persecution – for following Jesus!
Thank you, Lord for all those who have died for their faith and help those who are now suffering.