“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:10-12 (NIV)
You don’t have to be a Christian for very long before you realize that not everyone will like the fact that You live for Jesus. By following Jesus, we make a specific choice to go against the ways of the world we live in. We will find ourselves having to make difficult decisions to take a stand for Christ in the midst of a sinful world. When we do this and take a stand for Christ, we can expect that opposition will come. There really is no question about it.
The only question is: How will it come? For some, persecution surfaces in the form of physical abuse, imprisonment, slavery, torture, or even death. For others, there is no physical harm–but there is deep spiritual warfare and emotional pain from being accused, mocked, bullied, slandered, and cursed at. Regardless of how the persecution will come, we must ask ourselves this question: Are we willing to take a stand for Christ, no matter what the consequences may be? Are we willing to lay it all on the line? Will we be on fire for God?
People will call us hateful because we stand for righteousness–but they don’t realize that we’re actually doing everything we can to show the love of Christ while still taking a stand for what’s right. People will call us intolerant, judgmental, and critical just because we oppose the sin of the world. But do you know what our response must be? Joy and love.
We respond in joy because the Scripture tells us that we will receive an eternal reward because of the persecution we endure on this earth. Acts 5:41 tells us that when the apostles were persecuted they rejoiced “because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” of Jesus. Imagine the dedication the apostles had when they actually were happy that they were worthy to suffer! Worthy to suffer? That’s not something we talk about much; but maybe we need to start talking about it more. Oh, that we would respond with joy like the apostles did. Oh, that we would be counted worthy to suffer for Jesus’ name.
We also respond in love, for love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Even though the world does not love us, we can still love this world with the love of Christ. How else will they hear the gospel? How else will they respond to His truth? In the midst of persecution, we must never lose our love. Just as Jesus loved a people who did not love Him, so we must show His love to everyone we encounter. Imagine what would happen if we did that! Lord, teach us how to take a stand for You–and teach us how to do it joyfully and with Your love.