A Persecuting World

One of the reasons I stopped paying much attention to Facebook is all of the ill-informed arguing.  A few years ago, I was scrolling through my news feed when I saw a status talking about the persecuted church.  The status was well-written and eye-opening to a degree, but there was a thread of comments where people were arguing that Christians weren’t persecuted.  Being well ingrained in the church at that point, it had never crossed my mind that people who aren’t in the church might have no clue that there are thousands of Christians killed every year on the basis of their faith.  
 
According to Open Doors USA, every month there are 255 Christians killed, 104 abducted, 160 imprisoned without trial, and there are also 66 churches attacked.  1 in 12 Christians in the world lives under intense persecution, and there are at least 50 countries where it is either illegal to follow Jesus, or at the very least where people can be mistreated because of their faith.  Now, this is not a new concept, in fact, this is something that has been happening since the literal beginning of Christianity.  The book of Acts is filled with different acts of persecution against those who follow Christ.  Church history details different eras, leaders, organizations, and nations who detested, and in many cases would kill or imprison, Christians.
 
Jesus, on a few occasions, warns His disciples of the coming persecution.  He warns that He will be killed and that the same fate would be in store for most of them.  So what does Jesus tell them to do?  Does He tell them to fight back?  To stand up for themselves?  Not quite.  Jesus tells His disciples, in Matthew 10:26-28, “have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.  What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  The disciples even begin to live this out, as we see in Acts 4:29 when they share this prayer: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”  
 
Now, I don’t believe we should ask for or seek out persecution, but I do think we should stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted, and pray that they would be able to stand up under the weight of the persecution they live with.  So I would like to challenge you to think and pray outward this month.  Pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world who are being persecuted.  Pray that they will live boldly and that Christ would be glorified in their lives.  And pray that God would empower His children, no matter where they are, to speak light, life, and love into this dark world we live in with boldness.  
 
Until He returns,
Gage Addington