If you are a Christian you will be persecuted. That’s guaranteed. It’s been happening since the dawn of our faith and will continue and intensify until Jesus returns to fully establish his Kingdom on earth. As American Christians we are blessed to live in a nation where we are free to practice our faith. Culture is changing, there’s no doubt about it, and as it does we will likely lose some (or all) of that freedom. Jesus said it would happen. In fact, Jesus said we are BLESSED when we are persecuted. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
When our toes are stepped on and we are insulted because of our faith, how we respond is very important. It is human nature (pride) to want to fight back and stand up for our “rights”. However, we are here to be Christ’s ambassadors to a darkened world. How we live should reflect how he lived. When I search the Gospels to learn from Christ’s example, I can find no incidents of Jesus ever fighting back against the government (a government that was extremely oppressive) or his scoffers. On the other hand, I can find many examples of Jesus telling his followers to live at peace with the world-not giving in to sin, but living purely and peacefully among the sinners.
So, if you are feeling the pinch of persecution today and wondering how best to respond, here is some advice from scripture:
• But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. (Matt 5:39-40)
• Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret it leads only to the evil (Ps. 37:8).
• It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Pr. 20:3)
• Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Tim. 2:23-24)
• Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger; brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Eph. 4:31).
• A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult (Pr. 12:16).
• Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Rom. 12:17-18).
• Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else (1 Th. 5:15).
• Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Pet. 3:9).
• “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14)