The Real Target of Their Wrath
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12, KJV).
Know this: his real hostility was not so much at the church as it was with Jesus. Christians, realize this important point. When you are mocked by others, when you feel excluded by them, when you feel the pain of their persecution, recognize that they are not as hostile with you as they are with Jesus. It’s still true of religious terrorists today. Persecution of Christians is not so much a hatred of the individual Christian. Persecutors may not realize it, but who they really hate is Jesus!
Whoever it is that gives you a hard time for being a Christian, don’t take it personally. Remember who they really hate—even though many would never admit it. Instead, seek to love them, forgive them, and pray for them. Who knows? Your positive witness to them may convict their hearts of their need for Jesus. They may want what you have. It happened with Paul as he watched the first Christian martyr die—a man named Stephen. It prepared his heart for the time Jesus would confront him on the road to Damascus with the question, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4).