Bible Reading: Luke 6:27-42
How should we respond to persecution?
Firstly, don’t be surprised – be ready! Recognise that God allows His children to suffer – it is part of His plan! Peter says, “Do not think it strange” [1 Peter 4:12]. It includes being reviled and falsely accused [Matthew 5:9], and could be mental, physical or emotional.
Secondly, don’t complain – choose to rejoice! We are commanded to “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” [James 1:2]. Peter writes, “rejoice to the extent that you partake in Christ’s suffering” [1 Peter 4:13].
Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher” [Matthew10:24-26]. It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of Jesus – a cause to rejoice! The Epistle to the Philippians is an epistle of joy. Writing from prison in Rome, Paul uses the word ‘rejoice’ 11 times in four chapters. When Paul and Silas were in Philippi, they sang praises at midnight even though they had been beaten and thrown into prison [Acts 16:25].
Thirdly, trust yourself to God who is faithful! Peter says that when we suffer according to the will of God [that is not because we have acted foolishly or unwisely], we should commit our souls to Him [1 Peter 4:19]. It is Satan, not God, who causes suffering [1 Peter 5:8-9], but we must be careful not to miss God’s purpose in suffering. In the early church, God used persecution to facilitate sending them out from Jerusalem [Acts 8:1-8]. God uses trials to take us out of our comfort zones and to depend upon Him! The Apostle Paul makes it clear that the suffering he experienced turned out for the glory of God [Phil. 1:12-14]. As we commit ourselves to God, He gives us wonderful promises. Nothing can separate us from the love of God [Romans 8:38-39]. When we pass through the fire, God promises to be with us [Isaiah 43:2 cp. Daniel 3:19-30]. God will not allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear His grace will be sufficient for us in the trials [1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9].
Finally, bless the people who cause you pain! Luke 6:27-42 speaks about our enemies, those who curse us, despitefully use us, hate us and strike us. Our response should be to love them, to do good, to bless them, to release them and not to judge them! The Christian principle here is to forgive.
Why do you think that God allows His children to suffer persecution?
What has your response been if someone has caused you hurt and pain because of your faith? Does your response correspondence to the teaching of Jesus in Luke 6:27-42?
Read Acts 12. King Herod intended to kill both James and Peter. James died but an angel delivered Peter from the hands of Herod. Why do you think that James died but Peter lived?