Sunday 19th July, 2015

The persecuted Brothers and Sisters – Part 3

Jesus understands our propensity to avoid persecution and seek comfort.  He warns his disciples that they are to grow deep roots in order to withstand the trouble to come.

 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).

When trouble or persecution come we fall away.  Why?  No Root! 

What is this root that Jesus speaks of?

If the seed that the farmer sows is the Word of God or the Gospel, as Jesus explains when he gives his disciples the interpretation of the parable, then the root must be the deeper understanding of that Word. 

Produce or trees can look impressive as they grow high off the ground, but what is going on underneath?  That’s what Jesus is driving at here.  It is the growth underneath the surface that counts when trouble or persecution comes.  If we have not sought to grow in our understanding of God’s Word we will fail to comprehend the blessing that persecution brings to us. 

“But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).

If we don’t comprehend the good news of the glory of Jesus how will we possibly understand the need to suffer like he did?  We won’t.  Our roots will be too shallow and we will be uprooted in the storm.

However, conversely, when our roots are deep we will rejoice in persecution.  Not in a sadistic or morbid manner, but in a manner becoming the hope we have in Jesus. 

So, how do we grow deep roots? 

First, as I have mentioned, we read the Word and grow in our assurance of God’s mercy and sovereignty.  The more we know Him, the less we fear the world.

Second, we practice standing up for Jesus and not avoid declaring that we follow him.  Practice makes us stronger and more confident.

Third, we enter into suffering actively but supporting our brothers and sisters who are undergoing the fiery ordeal around the world.   Pray for them!  Pay for them!  Promote them! 

There are several organisations that help us to engage and enter into the persecution of the church.  I am currently getting involved with Open Doors.  They advocate for persecuted Christians around the world.  They provide resources such as Bibles and support for pastors and churches in horrible places with finances and practical leadership training and equipping. 

Listen to these challenging words from Paul the Apostle,

“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

We are not civilians.  It is time for us all to enter basic training for the trails to come. 

May the Lord grant us the crown on that victorious day!

Grace and Hope,

Stephen.