Persecution

rocky_mountain_tours.jpg2Timothy 3:12: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Persecution is “suffering” which comes your way because you are a follower of Christ. And in a particular reference to the focus verse, it means that the attempt to be different from the world by way of godliness will draw its ire.
When you are not in fellowship with the world, it means that your life is in opposition to its system. And the devil, who is the god of this world, would want you to face the brunt of not submitting to his kingdom.

Persecution is promised to everyone. It is not optional. Therefore don’t go breaking apart because of it. When Peter and John were bitten with stripes because they preached the gospel of Jesus, they rejoiced because they were counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ (Acts 5:30-42).

They were there, when he was gruesomely killed, unjustly sentenced to death, mocked and stripped naked, hanged on the cross for all to see (the shame of it!). The experience was so intense. And the disciple even ran away from him, not wanting to be seen with Jesus.

This was the one who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the adulation of all (Matthew 21:1-9); now he is being vilified as if he was the worst thing that can happen to Israel (Matthew 27:17-25, John 19:15)! False accusers were arrayed against him. He was described in the worst possible terms.

Seeing all that Jesus, being God, went through, to save them in the hands of sinful men, they knew it was NOTHING for them to be caned for His sake.

Paul wore his persecution experiences as a barge of honour (2Corinthians 11:22-27). He was sorely persecuted. The people wished him dead, and the Roman Empire intervened, imprisoning him (Acts 21:27-22:30). He suffered from a wave of hate from his people, the Jews. Though the Jews hated him, he loved the in return. (Jesus said: love your enemy [Matthew 5:43-48].)

He did not want Timothy to live in a fool’s paradise where the assumption is that he would not be persecuted; thus the focus verse. His mind should be prepared that, though he is doing the right thing, people are going to come and speak against him, and generally want to make life difficult for him because he is a practicing Christian.

Jesus said that those who follow him need to love him above all else, and those who forsake houses, family for his sake will have a reward of 100 fold on this earth, persecution inclusive (Mark 10:28-30). That showed that persecution is a promise. But sometimes we get caught off-guard by persecution because it comes from those closest to us.

Job was persecuted by his wife (Job 2:9). She said to him in his difficult moment: curse God and die. She spoke against his trust in God. He didn’t do what his wife said, committed to trusting God no matter what.

David was persecuted by Saul because God was with him. God favoured David, and was not with Saul (1Samuel 18:11-13). Joseph was hated by his brothers because his father favoured him and in addition to that, God favoured him, showing him he was special in his dreams. On telling those dreams to his brothers they hated him the more (Genesis 37).

Daniel was persecuted by his fellow leaders in the Kingdom of Mede and Persia; they set up a trap for him, to have him eaten by lions. He was excellent and obviously better than all of them. This was a mark of the favour of God on him, and he was hated for it (Daniel 6).

Jesus was persecuted to the point of death by the Pharisees. It was obvious that God was with him. Even one of the Pharisees which came to see Jesus by night testified to this (John 3:1-2). But many of them saw Jesus as a threat, setting various traps for him (Mark 3:6, 12:12-13).

All the above people mentioned were committed to Godliness, and being so committed, God was also committed to them. And because of that, jealousy rose up in the people around them.

For the Pharisees, their fear was that Jesus was having a large group of followers and before long they might become irrelevant (John 11:48). They feared for their position becoming obsolete. They tried to save their lives, jobs, position and prestige; they sought to kill Jesus, to save themselves.

For Daniel, whose fellow leaders hated his guts, they were suffering from the bug of racism, because when they reported him to the king that he had flouted his orders not to pray to anyone except him for a period of thirty days, and though he was one of the most prominent leaders, instead of using his name they referred to him as “that Judah captive (Daniel 6:13).”

That shows another way that people will persecute you: name-calling. Jesus suffered from name-calling. He was called Beelzebub (Matthew 10:5-31). And Jesus said: if he was so called, the disciples should expect to be given worse labeling.

Israel experienced grievous persecution in Egypt. The cause was also jealousy (Exodus 1:8-22). Pharaoh was jealous of population increase in the land of the Goshen where the children of Israel were and started a regime of repression. They were sorely afflicted, and they cried out and God sent Moses to save them (Exodus 2:23-25).

James wrote that if anyone is afflicted, such should pray (James 5:13). We see prayer rising up in the time of persecution. At least twice in the book of Acts persecution led to prayer and prayer led to more manifestation of God in the situation. The one was when the Pharisees gave Peter and John warning not to speak in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:16-33), and another time was when Herod imprisoned Peter (Acts 12:1-18).

In the first instance, the church prayed, and where they prayed shook greatly and greater power was released to wrought more miracles, while on the second occasion, the church was ceaselessly praying for deliverance of Peter which eventually happened.

The goal of the persecutor(s) is to repress. And he/she/they come(s) up with a good reason they should carry out the repression, which can take place in various forms: verbal harassment, incarceration, passage of death sentence, torture.

Don’t attempt to appeal to the persecutors, or to acquiesce to them.

The only way they will stop persecuting you, is if you are dead. But be careful not to return hate with hate.

That will be against the law of love (Matthew 5:43-48), and that is actually the trap the devil wants you to fall into in the first place. Let’s take the higher way (1Corinthians 13:4-13).

 

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