The one who is persecuted is blessed
When a radical extremists broke into a Christian meeting the comment from the one who was beaten, taken away by his extremist captors by vehicle, had his valuables stolen, said he knew something incredible spiritually was about to happen.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Persecution is glorious?
I remember having said that suffering for Christ is glorious. But when I visited Gowda, a persecuted Christian in the hospital I remember thinking, “this is not glorious, this is hideous”. Then I began to think of the ultimate glory, the cross. It is also the ultimate hideous act. There is a paradox that while persecution and suffering for righteousness sake is glorious, it is not going to look that way. It looks very ugly, because in one sense it is ugly. Only a spiritual perspective will enable you to view persecution as glorious.
1 Peter 4:12-14 12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
One radical extremist boasted, there will be no Christians worshiping on my watch. He died of a massive heart failure about forty-eight hours of his public statement. There was murmuring through the whole community that God avenged him for his persecution of Christians.
When Dinesh was persecuted for his faith a group of extremists stole his money, roughed him up and broke into his house, burned his Bibles and tracts in the road. They kept his important documents like graduation certificates and told them they would be returned if he re-converted to Hinduism. Many people were praying for Dinesh.
Later his persecutors brought by his documents apologized for all they had wrongly done to him and asked him to pray for them. They said that since the group of twelve persecutors did all the wrong to him there had been a string of misfortunes including road accidents, illnesses and family problems. They concluded that God had judged them for the wrong they did and they would have problems until they asked Dinesh to pray to God for them. It does not always happen this way but we do know it is not a good outlook for the persecutors.
Jeremiah 20:11 NIV But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.
Those become our best partners
I mentioned visiting Gowda in the hospital. The ironic thing is that Gowda had 15 years before been behind Christian persecution that put a man in that same hospital. The persector had become the persecuted. That is what happened to the Apostle Paul. This man who so persecuted the church was beaten, stoned and imprisoned for his faith. Those who were radical extremists against Christ often become the radical extremists for Christ. They didn’t drift into their faith in Christ and they live with passion and become our best partners for the sake of the gospel. Think about that the next time one of your ministry partners is beaten for the sake of Christ. The one who beat him my soon become your best partner in the ministry. Pray for those who persecute you.
Acts 9:3-6 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Prepare to respond rightly
When I became aware that a friend of mine was persecuted I became angry. That is the natural response. We become like Peter who struck the guard who came to arrest Jesus. But Jesus told him to put away his sword. Our call is to love our enemies and pray for those who would persecute us. We need to be prepared. To be walking in the Spirit to respond rightly when persecution comes.
2 Timothy 3:12 (New International Version)
12In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
18″If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
God Bless You!