Persecution: An Opportunity for Witness

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What did the historical Jesus have to say about persecution—and about how His followers should respond to it?

Luke 21:12-19                                                                                                               

According to Open Doors, an organization committed to serving persecuted Christians worldwide, each month on average 322 Christians die for their faith, 214 churches and property owned by Christians are destroyed, and 772 Christians are beaten, abducted, raped, arrested, or forced into undesired marriages. Countries like North Korea, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Syria are at the top of the most dangerous countries to live in and in name the name of Jesus. What did the historical Jesus have to say about all this persecution and how His followers should respond?

A few days before He faced His own death Jesus spoke about the signs that would precede the end of history and His second coming to earth to set up His Kingdom. He also said that before this happened, there would be a period of time—a period that has now extended to almost 2000 years. And Jesus tells us that persecution will not destroy His people. It will give them a powerful opportunity for witness and they don’t even have to prepare their speech for the courtroom.

“But before all these things (the great, unmistakable signs of the end of the age v. 11), they will lay hands on you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons, leading you before kings and governors because of my name. The result will be that you will bear witness. Therefore, determine in your hearts not to think about how you will defend yourselves because I will give you a mouth and wisdom—a defense none of your enemies will be able to resist or refute. 

Now you will also be handed over by parents and siblings, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be put to death and you will be hated by many because of my name. And not a hair of your head will be destroyed. By your endurance gain your life.” Luke 21:12-19

How can Jesus tell us when we are persecuted for His name and some lose their lives that not a hair of their head will fall? The answer is resurrection. Like Jesus who died and lost His life, we who believe will receive a new glorified body and every hair will be in place.

LORD, a dear friend who I have ministered with for years is in a coma today. Raise him up by your healing power and thanks for the final promise that no matter what happens to his physical body, the final story will be life forever. Sustain your children especially in the prisons of North Korea and those in the brutal hands of ISIS. Give them the strength You promised to help them endure and witness faithfully that You alone have the power to overcome death with life.

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