Persecution Principles

Romans 12:14 NET - Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV - Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 

Here is a New Testament promise that most Christians do not want “name and claim.”  True Christian living carries with it the assumption that persecution in some fashion is unavoidable.  It may be more emotional - the rejection by family and friends, the denial of jobs or promotions, the mockery in school settings, or the false accusations of bigotry and hatred by the culture at-large.  Worldwide, physical persecution of those who call on the name of Christ is still rampant after 2000 years.  Torture, imprisonment, removal of children from parents, enslavement, martyrdom as many are murdered for their Christian life identification.  Whether it impacts us emotionally, financially, or physically, persecution is simply inevitable for those who follow Jesus in truth and sincerity.  Jesus was not rejected and executed because he was such a nice man.  Exclusive truth claims, prophetic rebukes, and the highest moral standards have a way of making you unpopular with others.  As His followers, we are to carry on His mission and message; therefore, we should not be surprised when others persecute us to one degree or another.  Americans tend to forget the harsh injustice and cruel evil that historically gets perpetrated against those who live committed Christian lives.  We had better prepare ourselves.

Yet the Apostle Paul (who would also be executed for his faith in Jesus) gives the following principle:  bless those who persecute you and do not curse them.  This is emotionally difficult because it feels like we are condoning or celebrating injustice, cruelty, or blasphemy.  Yet, Jesus kept ministering on the cross.  The one who was falsely accused, rejected, abandoned, lied about, and ultimately tortured to death kept blessing others through it all.  He healed Malcchus’s ear while being arrested.  On the cross, He prayed for the forgiveness of His torturers.  Most notably, He saved a lost thief on a cross - a thief who earlier had mocked Jesus.  Christ’s model is to bless the unworthy, the cruel, the persecutor.  Isn’t that what He did with us before our conversion?

Who is your chief persecutor - in your family, your job, your school, or in some other setting?  How should you respond according to Scripture?  Will you pray for them sincerely and with enough time invested till you actually mean it?  What are some specific ways you may actively bless those who are mocking, harming, or falsely accusing you?  Take personal inventory - are you being “persecuted” because of your Christlikeness - or because of a character flaw or some wrongdoing on your part?  (In other words, don’t ever assume you are a victim, especially if you brought it on yourself with unchristlike words, attitudes, or behavior!). Finally, consider this:

Matthew 5:10-11 NET - Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.  5:11Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. 5:12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.