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What is Persecution?

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”  2 Timothy 3:12  (NKJV). In this chapter, Paul references his trip to Lystra recorded in Acts 14 where he was stoned – almost to death – for sharing the Gospel. His incredible love and courage is displayed by the fact that he revisited Lystra in Acts 16. We should certainly pay attention to his example.

You may ask a fair question however: “What if I do not experience persecution?” The assumption behind that question is usually that there is one type of persecution – physical persecution.

Non-physical persecution confers a blessing from Jesus himself as stated in Luke 6:22 (NKJV) “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and cast your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake!”  This means that when people speak evil of you or exclude you in your workplace for being a Christian or sharing your faith, you are experiencing a form of persecution which has the great honour of being “on account of the Son of Man”.

According to 1 Peter 4:4, we can be spoken evil of for living our Christian lives in a way that is in distinction to the sensuality and debauchery which often characterises our society.  This Scripture reminds us that there are various types of persecution beyond the physical. This Scripture highlights that it is not only preaching which causes persecution but also practising holiness.

In 1 Peter 1:6-7, Peter describes being maligned as a genuine trial “grieved by various trials” which will test our faith and results in “praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Christ Jesus.”

The question should not primarily be “Am I being persecuted physically?” Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Richard Wurmbrand stated  “We will not be judged for how much we have suffered, but for how much we have loved.”

This month’s challenge:

In Australia, relative religious freedom means you will probably not be beaten for sharing your faith; in light of this, and of the fact that it still incurs a blessing, let us be intentional in sharing the Good News with our friends and family, making disciples and living our lives in purity.