What is persecution really? What does it mean? In terms of definitions, it means 'to continually treat someone cruelly and unfairly, even though the person has done nothing wrong'.
Persecution comes in many forms these days. You may not even realize it's happening until you go back and review the events of the day. Or you might just get blindsided with it. Persecution hurts. Friends, COUNT IT ALL JOY! Let the arrows fly, the scorners scorn, the mockers mock. This is a glorious thing.
Picture this scene. Two people are conversing. One of them says, "I better watch what I say. So and so is sensitive and 'churchy'. They might be shocked." These people are your friends. This is a barbed arrow pointed straight at you and you know it. It is covered, supposedly, in a joking manner, yet it is meant to bite. What do you do?
Here's what I did. I said, "I don't live under a rock. I am a believer, and I'm not stupid". I don't understand why some people insist that Christians just aren't very intelligent people. Especially those 'scientific' types. We believers, we followers, were smart enough to walk straight into God's arms. Most of us got there after varied life experiences. We know so much about life. God Himself grants us so much knowledge. Now, we are able to use all those bad things for the good of others. We've been there. And stepped out on the other side, amazingly whole again. We've seen both sides of the coin, and been blessed with the ability to choose which side we'll stand on. The reason the testimonies of people who really came from way down in the pit are so powerful is because they are such an example of His power. My own conversion was not so earth shaking--it was a quiet turning around, a determination to view things from His perspective and not my own. I DECIDED! It was a simple decision to lean on Him and not myself, an acceptance of the truth, a willingness to do His bidding. There was no thunderous bolt of lightning. There was only peace. Warmth. A gentle sigh from somewhere deep within my soul. I feel a fierce desire to serve Him in my own little way, and I feel a strong need to defend Him and protect Him. I'm not sure I said that right--He surely doesn't need my protection--yet I'm betting many of you understand exactly what I mean by that. I don't like it when people speak ill of MY BROTHER!
John 15:20 reads, "No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also." (NIV) Jesus tells us that the world will hate us, and they do. He told us these things would happen. Just look at what they did to Him--what people are still doing to Him. I count it a blessing every time someone 'stings' me. It means I am doing what I said I would do when He allowed me into the Kingdom. It means I am presenting Him in some small way every day--maybe not even a small way. If people know enough of my faith in Him to try to use it to hurt me, it means I am probably making them uncomfortable somehow, and this can only be good. It's true, friends, you cannot hide a light. Even if you aren't purposefully setting out to present the Message, you still do. Some people won't like that. You don't even have to speak at times--they just know. Thank you, Jesus! If you're like me, sometimes you feel like you aren't doing anything for Him or you're just not doing enough, and every persecution proves that you must be doing something! Or it wouldn't be happening, now would it?
Pay attention and praise God when you are belittled and made fun of. Put a smile on your face, and be careful not to curse the one who is hurting you. Accept the hurt GLADLY by reminding yourself of the hurt that was suffered on your behalf. We know only an iota of it. "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse".(Romans 12:14, NIV)
We are privileged to be called children of the King. Jesus tells us plainly what to expect, yet it still comes as a surprise to most of us. Take any hurt you feel and lay it down at His feet. He's been there.
And never give up! Never give in! Stay strong. He is with you, and so are all your fellow believers. You may not see us, but we're there, and we'll hold you up.
Persecution is a blessed thing, and it can be a joy to you, if you let it.