Be Still Know
READ: Matthew 5.10 NLT
‘God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.’
The life to which Jesus calls us is one of blessing. This is life at its very best. But Jesus never tried to disguise the fact that his followers would face rejection and persecution just as he did. Jesus assures his followers in every age that it is inevitable that if they stand up for the truth, there will be many people who have a vested interest in bringing them down.
Persecution is normally subtle. For the majority of Christians in Eastern Europe during the communist era the challenge was not the likelihood of imprisonment or martyrdom. That happened from time to time for a few, but the ever-present challenge was in education and employment. I recall talking this through at the time with parents in Romania who wanted to know how to help their children at school when they had to sit through atheism classes. Christian children would find it very hard to enter university and because they were not card-carrying communists they would find it very difficult to find a good job. If they did find a job then, almost always, it would be completely unrelated to their abilities and opportunities for promotion were almost unthinkable. To work hard in an ill-fitting job would need exceptional grace and that was the daily experience of most Christians.
In our society the challenges are very different but they are inevitable. In a society that has long since rejected Christianity, it can be exceptionally hard to speak about personal faith. We will often be accused and even mocked for being out of touch with the way things are these days. To live with a continual barrage of sarcasm is the experience of many Christians and it can be very hard to bear. And if you find yourself in a position where you believe your organisation is acting unethically, it can be incredibly tough to stand up for truth and justice.
Jesus is not encouraging us to go looking for persecution and suffering, but rather to be totally unsurprised when it happens.
QUESTIONS: In what ways have you faced resistance because of your Christian faith?
PRAYER: Loving God, give me your strength day by day so that I will be able to stand strongly for you, whatever the challenges. Amen
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