Sunday, May 23, 2010

Persecution: Be Glad!

On April 17, 2010 Hindu extremists attacked a group of Christians at a prayer meeting in Madhya Pradesh, India, causing the death of a 25-year-old man and severely injuring three other believers, according to The Voice of the Martyrs. Hindu radicals disrupted the meeting of more than 400 Christians and began destroying Bibles and other property. They attacked the Christians with sticks and iron rods, accusing them of forcible conversions.
On March 16, 2010 the People’s High Court of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region rejected an appeal from Uyghur house-church leader Alimujiang Yimiti, according to China Aid Association. In September 2007 Chinese government officials closed Alimujiang Yimiti’s business and accused him of using it as a cover up for “preaching Christianity among people of Uyghur ethnicity.” He was later arrested in January 2008. Yimiti is seriously sick in prison and there are concerns he is not receiving adequate medical attention, according to
On April 13, 2010 a pastor and his wife in Boto village, Bauchi state, Nigeria, were abducted and killed by suspected Islamic extremists, according to Compass Direct News. Extremists previously set fire to their church building in January, days after Christians displaced by violence in Plateau state had taken refuge at the church
For almost 2,000 years, enemies of the Gospel have been trying to stop Christ's followers. In Nina Shea's book, In the Lion's Den, she reports that more Christians have been martyred for their faith in this last century alone than in the previous nineteen centuries of church history combined.
One widowed Chinese believer absolutely refused to deny Jesus when she came to pick up her twin sons. The officers threatened her, saying, "If you do not deny Jesus, we will not release your sons."  The widow replied, "Well, I guess you will just have to keep them, because without Jesus, there would be no way for me to take care of them!"  With no avenues left open to them, the officials said, "Take your sons and go!"  ( 11-8-05)
What an attitude that Chinese Christian mother has! What would you call it? Courage? Faith? Patience? Jesus says this about her and others who have an attitude like hers:
(Mat 5:10 NKJV)  “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
This beatitude is a little different from the others. Notice how the beatitudes are structured. There are two groups of four, and each group ends with a reference to righteousness. The first group ends with verse 6: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." And the second group ends with verse 10: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake."
The three beatitudes that lead to hunger for righteousness are descriptions of a kind of holy emptiness. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn over their needy condition and the meek who hand their cause over to God. It's natural that these three descriptions of emptiness and need should be followed by a description of hunger. If you don't have something you hunger for it. And Jesus promises that we will be filled with righteousness.
Then the next three beatitudes are descriptions not of emptiness but of fullness. Our hunger for righteousness is beginning to be satisfied by an overflowing mercy, a pure heart and a power to make peace. So the righteousness longed for in verse 6 is shows in the form of mercy, purity, and peacemaking.
The result is persecution for this very righteousness. If we live according to the first seven beatitudes, we will automatically experience the eighth. Be the person vv.3-9 speak of and the world will give you the persecution of vv.10-12. Keep these in mind:
  • EXPECT TO BE PERSECUTED. If you are never persecuted you are off the right track. We are persecuted because we will not compromise our faith.
  • REMEMBER, GOD BLESSES THE PERSECUTED. Hang in there. Trust the Lord and rely on His goodness.
  • KNOW THAT THE REWARDS ARE WORTH THE RISK. Jesus says, "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad," and "great is your reward in heaven."
In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul writes, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
What does that say about my life in Christ Jesus?
What is my response to stories of persecution?

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