“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5: 10-12
Do Christians face persecution in America? Not really. We might face harassment, insult, rejection, slander and discrimination when speaking up for our faith and Biblical values – but rarely do we face persecution. The American Church actually experiences so much privilege, freedom, and material prosperity that we are often guilty of apathy when it comes to thinking about the global persecuted church.
This by no means belittles the very real difficulties that arise in a society where discrimination against Christians is becoming increasingly the legalized and accepted cultural practice. While American Christians don’t face beatings, torture, imprisonment, or death for our faith – there are Christians around the world who do.
The 2017 World Watch List published by Open Doors International lists the top 25 most dangerous nations for Christians with North Korea claiming the top spot. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:26 that when one member of the body of believers suffers, all members suffer (My paraphrase). So in light of the global magnitude of persecution, how do we respond?
- Pray. Pray for the persecuted church around the world to be faithful witnesses for Christ.
- Ask for Forgiveness. Ask God to forgive us for our apathy.
- Speak up. Remember the persecuted church and call on government leaders to intervene when possible.
Don’t forget that when it comes to suffering, no one better identifies with the persecuted church than Jesus who was tortured, beaten, and unjustly killed on the cross. Jesus understands because He ultimately overcame persecution when He rose from the dead. And THAT is encouragement to cling to no matter how difficult circumstances appear.