As I prepare this blog, my heart trembles. I have never been called upon to truly suffer for my faith. One of the interesting things about blogging is that I can check every day to see how many people have read my posts and what countries they are from. It shows me that some of them are from places where we know people are suffering real persecution for Jesus. I am utterly humbled by the task of writing about the great love Jesus has for them and the tremendous blessings they will receive because they stand firm. If you are one of them, please give me the privilege of praying for you…Lord Jesus, may Your presence be powerful, rich, and protective over these precious brothers and sisters. Strengthen their hearts and bodies and make a way for Your goodness and mercy on their behalf. May we all continue to be faithful in prayer and use our resources to take our stand with the persecuted Church. Here is a website that can help us do that: http://www.persecution.com.
In the eighth beatitude, Jesus said:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
There are many ways in the history of Christianity that people have been persecuted for their faith. Over the last two thousand years, millions of faithful saints have been beaten, put in jail, tortured, and even killed because of their loyalty to the name of Jesus Christ. In fact, more people have suffered across the world for Jesus in our generation than at any other time in history. They may not look very blessed in this world, but they will be lavished with tremendous blessings for all eternity.
Everlasting life is a very long time, and when we have lived in God’s perfect bliss and peace for trillions upon trillions of earth-years, the seventy or so years we had to live on earth will seem like a mere breath…a tiny piece of dust compared to the vast amounts of life we’ll have in Heaven. The terrible moments of persecution when believers stood faithful to the High King of Heaven in this life will certainly seem worth it then…it carries a weight of glory worth far more than gold! The book of Revelation talks about the tremendous honor the persecuted saints will receive in Revelation 12:10-11:
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
p style=”text-align: center;”>“Now have come the salvation and the power
p style=”text-align: center;”>and the kingdom of our God,
p style=”text-align: center;”>and the authority of His Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers
p style=”text-align: center;”>and sisters,
p style=”text-align: center;”>who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
p style=”text-align: center;”>11 They triumphed over Him
p style=”text-align: center;”>by the blood of the Lamb
p style=”text-align: center;”>and by the word of their testimony;
p style=”text-align: center;”>they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
The book of Revelation tells us how this world is going to end, and even though it hasn’t happened yet, we can be certain that it is absolutely true. God will work in power to insure that the testimony of the saints will triumph with Christ over Satan, the Great Enemy of God. That time has not yet come, but God promised it from His throne. See Revelation 6:9-11:
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.
The Lord knows each of His faithful ones by name. He knows the good deeds they do for Him, and the hardship they suffer out of their great love for Him. He can be trusted to honor His beloved for every bit of it. One day there will be no more tears or pain. He will make all things new. The Day of the White Robes will be beautiful indeed…and all of us…every believer who has ever lived and all of the angels will celebrate with Christ over you for what you have done.
Persecution can come in the form of torture and death. Persecution also comes in much quieter ways. As we seek to be poor in spirit in the work of daily life, we might struggle against proud and arrogant people. We might be put down, passed over, or lonely because we aren’t willing to get sucked into corruption and sin. But it is worth it to stand with courage and conviction, remembering the power of the risen Lord, and remaining loyal to the One who deserves it.