You know, we need to look up the word up in the dictionary, just to understand what it means to be persecuted. It means to oppress or harass with ill-treatment, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or beliefs, or to annoy persistently; bother. Have you been persecuted because of Christ? We are going to look some of the 12 disciples of Jesus and the suffering they went through. Then we will relate it to our own and see whether we really measure up to their faith.
You have heard what became of Peter. We are told that … "and by one of the apostles was put to death-the first to suffer of" the glorious company of the apostles "-James the brother of John, who was slain with the sword by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12: 2) Peter was also imprisoned, and was delivered only by an angel ( Acts 12: 7-11). They bore the brunt of carrying the cross of their faith in Christ. requested for his head … "The king was greatly distracted but because of his oats and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he immediately dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in prison. He welcomed the head back on a platter andave it to the girl …. When his disciples heard about it that they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. "Mk 6: 26-29.What a macabre way to die!
Have been persecuted for Christ's sake? If no, then you need to appreciate that the love for Christ comes at a price. Early Christians were persecuted for they sake of Christ: maimed, beaten, thrown into arena to be devoured by lions (do you remember Perpetua and her friend?) In full view of cheering fans, exiled as well banished from their homelands. The work of spreading the word of God is not for the faint hearted. Today, I do not know many of us would agree to have ourselves thrown into lions' den or stoned like Stephen for speaking against evil.
We are somehow lucky because we have laws that govern countries that are less barbaric; more humane and there is religious tolerance. I however know of continued persecution in some countries like China and other predominately Muslim countries like Indonesia. There are a few Christians there who continue to face persecution for their faith. even as we learn to tolerate other peoples faiths, we must appreciate the suffering and anguish our brothers and sisters have to face every day for the sake of their faith.
No one is forced to suffer for the sake of Christ. God Himself was born of flesh so as to suffer and die on the cross for our sins. He bore the weight of our sins. I urge you to stand for the truth even in the face of adversity; do not waver or be cowed into submission by threats of death for He has promised that whoever sufferers because of His name will get rewarded with eternal life. Suffering is good; persecution is good for they strengthen our faith and determination to know that you are fighting for a cause. Do not rest in your spiritual comfort zone; the devil does not.