Where Does Persecution Come From?

What is persecution, and how do we respond to it? Is it there to minister to us? Are there lessons to be learned from it? Persecution can push us to a place where we do not want to go. It can quiet us down, let alone slow us down.Have you considered that the challenges of public prayer by groups who believe that it should be happening is just another form of persecution? There have been open challenges by persons of other religions against missionaries and field workers who were affiliated with Christian organizations, and some of these people have been killed, as well.The practice of our faith today will face many challenges, even persecution. In spite of threats or opposition, we will need to take a stand and pray publicly before others as a testimony for believing and trusting in God. We will lose ground, in contrast, when we allow persecution to hinder us and keep us from being vocal about the God we serve.

Matthew 5:10-11
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me.

Persecution will always be the response of opposition to truth and, accordingly, opposition to God. We are warriors for the Lord in the midst of your persecution. We must stand firm and remain actively involved when we stand for righteousness in an unrighteous world. To choose living a righteous life will certainly cause one to stand out in the world. To say that you love Jesus and live it out in your actions is the greatest testimony of your faith.

James 1:22-24
But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was.

You will face insults for your stand for Christ. Consider that you will either influence others with your actions, or you will be influenced.

The goal of those who persecute you is to drive you away, to trouble you, or mistreat you because of what you stand for. This persecution may also come from others with the intent to be hurtful with words of malice or slander, and an underlying wickedness that attempts to cause pain, stress, and difficulty.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His creation–created in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:12
In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Living a godly life is not just going home and quietly sitting before the Lord in prayer. Living a godly life is not done in secret…it is to be lived publicly before others with a desire to serve the Lord and minister on His behalf.

Jeremiah 20:7-11
7 You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived. You seized me and prevailed. I am a laughingstock all the time; everyone ridicules me.

8 For whenever I speak, I cry out—I proclaim: Violence and destruction!
because the word of the LORD has become for me constant disgrace and derision.

9 If I say: I won’t mention Him or speak any longer in His name, His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in, and I cannot prevail.

10 For I have heard the gossip of the multitudes, “Terror is on every side!
Report him; let’s report him!” Everyone I trusted watches for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived so that we might prevail against him and take our vengeance on him.”

11 But the LORD is with me like a violent warrior. Therefore, my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. Since they have not succeeded, they will be utterly shamed, an everlasting humiliation that will never be forgotten.

When you live a life for Christ and press forward doing what God will have you to do, you will prevail, in spite of the insults, the opposition, and even when threatened with death (Jeremiah 26:7-19).

When you stand up for God and have the mindset to be godly for Him, He does remember you in your times of persecution. It does, however, require courage and seeking the Lord’s wisdom on your part.

Acts 4:12-21
12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”

13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus. 14 And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in response. 15 After they had ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign, evident to all who live in Jerusalem, has been done through them, and we cannot deny it! 17 But so this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.” 18 So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God [for us] to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20 for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them, because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done.

Through your efforts, God will make it evident to others who see your life of godliness. It does not mean, however, that everyone will accept it or acquiesce to it.

Acts 5:17-21
17 Then the high priest took action. He and all his colleagues, those who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 So they arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple complex, and tell the people all about this life.” 21 In obedience to this, they entered the temple complex at daybreak and began to teach.

Galatians 5:11
Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.

Acts 13:44-52
44 The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the message of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to oppose what Paul was saying by insulting him.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas boldly said: “It was necessary that God’s message be spoken to you first. But since you reject it, and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles! 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

I have appointed you as a light for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 So the message of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the religious women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. 51 But shaking the dust off their feet against them, they proceeded to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

When we face persecution, we should readily conclude that we are in a good place in our relationship with God. If we are not facing persecution, we are not as public with our faith as we should be. God is working through us each and every day, but we are challenged to see the persecution for what it is…it’s more about opposition to Jesus Christ. When Christ gave the command for all of us to go into the world and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20), there is a certainty that persecution would come with it. Jesus reminds us, however, that there are blessings even in the midst of your persecution. The benefits are in the growing relationship you will see as you trust the Lord and keep working at it, and that your ministry will be a living testimony to others who see you. God is at work through us…we are only the messengers. We can survive the mocking, the laughter, and the ridicule that we receive from others because we know that He is greater than anything and everything that we may face.

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