Look at Jesus’ words the very first time persecuted shows up in the New Testament:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).
In reality, the persecution of Matthew 5:11 is already here. Luke’s version of the same teaching in Luke 6:22 says this:
Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.
We already are hated here in America. We are excluded. We are reviled. We are cast out. People falsely say all kinds of evil against us. And Jesus says we are blessed? How can that be? Tweet this!
It’s all about perspective. A biblical perspective. For us and for our kids.
As I share with you what God has shown me, I pray His word sinks deep in your soul and anchors you to the unshakable hope we have in Christ Jesus. Even in the face of persecution. Tweet this! If you have kids, I hope this helps you help them anchor their souls in the hope of Christ, too.
If you were to read no further than today and I only had this one chance to share a single scripture passage that embodies God’s encouraging truth for us with regards to persecution, I would choose Romans 8:18, and then 25-39. In fact, the themes in bold are the truths I believe will help shape our perspective as we delve deeper into the counsel of God’s word for everything we need to face promised persecution.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (18).
Hope and endurance.
But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance (25).
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses (26a).
Prayer and intercession.
For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (26b).
Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (27).
(Also verse 34b, “It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”)
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (28).
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified (29-30).
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (31).
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (32)
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies (33).
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (34).
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (35)
As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (37).
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (38-39).
Oh, yes! Blessed are we! Not in the eyes of the world, but in the ways that really matter – the ways that eternally matter – we are abundantly blessed. That’s why 1 John 2:15-17 tells us:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
As we prepare for persecution, we must adopt God’s perspective. Tweet this!
Want to read the other blogs in this series? Click here: Unshakable Hope in the Face of Persecution for an index of all the blogs.
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Lord, even the hard truth of Your word is truth that sets us free, and he whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Thank You! Let Your perspective define our perspectives, Your truth become our truth, and anchor our beliefs to Your word as we become more wholly Yours. You are faithful, and we trust You to be who You say You are and to do what You say You will do. Help us to serve You and glorify You in all we do.
FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION:
- Jesus uses the word when, not if as He talks about persecution: “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).” It will happen. If we let God’s word define us and our beliefs, what attitude will we adopt toward persecution? How will we get through it?
- Jesus says we’re blessed when men hate us for His sake (Luke 6:22). Most of us wouldn’t put being hated and being blessed in the same sentence, but Jesus does exactly that. Have you or someone you know been hated, excluded, reviled, or cast out because of your love for Jesus? In what way? How were you or they blessed? (Remember, God’s blessings won’t look like what the world calls a blessing.)
- Luke 6:23 is sort of like verse 22. Jesus uses words we might not otherwise associate with persecution: “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven.” Would you say this describes your attitude toward being hated, excluded, reviled, or cast out? According to this scripture, heaven is the reason we can rejoice with joy. For you personally, do you find it difficult to focus on what’s to come rather than on things getting better here?
- Do you feel like you’re prepared to hold fast your faith to the end, even if men hate, exclude, revile, and call you evil for the sake of Jesus (Luke 6:22)? Do you see ways this is already happening in America? In what ways? How does Romans 8:18 and 25-39 encourage you about what’s to come?