Persecution for the sake of Christ is common in many (most?) countries around our planet. The relative ease we live out our Christianity in the United States is really quite rare. Many times, we are so unaware of the suffering our brothers and sisters in Christ endure, and this naivity is tragic.
When Paul was in prison and writing the church at Colosse, he reminded them, "Remember my chains" (Colossians 4:18).
Our family is able to remember and educate ourselves through the resources of Voice of the Martyrs. This organization is a tremendous asset to those suffering and to those of us who are not but would like to help and pray.
We should not be surprised that there is great suffering and persecution around the world for His sake but only surprised that we are not experiencing it. Christ prophecied these things were coming and gave counsel to his own 12 disciples on how to deal with it.
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" (Matthew 10:16-19).
Christ evens warns them, "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake" (Matthew 10:22a).
The disciples would experience rejection from their own Jewish people (which would eventually bring the Gospel to the Gentiles), and we see this same type of persecution all around the world today.
On a personal level, this is one reason why we feel it so important to diligently train our own children in the Scriptures. I want my children to know what they believe, why they believe it, and, hopefully, to have as much as possible hidden in their heart. We are never guaranteed religious freedom anywhere except on a piece of paper that is already being chipped away and disregarded by so many. As a matter of fact, we should not expect it because the Word tells us otherwise.
Let us be encouraged by Christ's own words:
"And he who does not take his own cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:38-39).
Even when not in the face of persecution, we should pick up our cross and follow Him. . . .daily. Only His way will we find true life.
In the Heart of our Home,