Sunday 12th July, 2015

The Persecuted Brothers and Sisters – Part 2

Last week I introduced the ever present issue of the persecution of the saints.  The Bible is clear on the matter.  We the church, will suffer persecution in this world.  Jesus’ soberly reminds his disciples when he says, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:20).   However, in the west the church is not used to following the masters footsteps in this way. 

It comes as a surprise to us when we experience difficulty from others because we are Christ followers.  Yet the Apostle Peter raises an eyebrow at our perplexed response to persecution when he reminds us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

Persecution is not strange.  It is to be expected!  That is a very sobering thought and reality for the Christian.  Jesus was persecuted, thus we are not to be surprised when it comes our way. 

Unfortunately, we have grown accustomed to Christendom in the west.  However, the tide is turning.  Christians in the west are beginning to feel the heat of a culture that is no longer indifferent, but becoming aggressively opposed to Christian perspectives on a whole range of social and religious topics.  Persecution is heading our way! 

The test is coming.  Will we stand with Jesus or will we shrink back?  Jesus tells a parable about this when he says, “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (Matthew 13:20-21). 

“Since they have no root!”

Persecution is not the problem.  No root is! 

What does this mean?  What is the root that we need to withstand the fiery ordeal to come? 

We will investigate this in Part 3 next week as we discuss how to deepen our roots in Christ.

Grace and Hope,

Steve