Having read recently about the global Christian situation (here and here), persecution against Christians is on my mind. I have heard it said (sorry no citation!) that the 2oth century saw more persecution against Christians than any previous. I have no idea what is meant by that – either the type of persecution or the extent.
In Canada, there is nowhere near the type or severity or persecution that exists in other parts of the world. It may lead us to ask ourselves the question: Are we being persecuted? What about others who receive worse?
1) Know about it. It is not a myth. Despite the claims of some, who have been soundly refuted here and here among other places, persecution of Christians is a historical and present reality. God sees it as precious in the Bible. Early Church Father Tertullian has famously said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. Suffering for faith in Christ is real, and it is happening right now in the world.
2) There’s always some who have it worse. Lots of sisters and brothers suffering very bad in other places. No matter how we may think it is going for us here in Canada, it is worse elsewhere. This should make us thankful. It is hard to imagine someone dying for their faith here. But it shouldn’t make us neglect the cultural climate we live in now. We may be tempted to think that real persecution is impossible here now but it is not. Just because it is worse elsewhere doesn’t mean the spirit of persecution isn’t here with us now.
3) Small persecution isn’t nothing. To think accurately about persecution we need to look to what Scripture says about it. What does Jesus say? Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (Matthew 5:11 NKJV) If you think you need your head cut off or your house burned down to be “properly persecuted” consider that Jesus here defines persecution as an attitude (reviling) and as speech (speaking evil). Paul makes reference to Ishmael persecuting Isaac: But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was bornaccording to the Spirit, even so it is now. (Galatians 4:29) To what does that refer? Walk back to Genesis 21:9 and see. He is referring to “scoffing”. Just because your house isn’t burned down and your head remains on your shoulders does not mean that smaller persecutions mean nothing. If a professor derides your faith as bigoted and backwards, or a friend puts down your choices to not get wasted, or a celebrity mocks Christian values …that isn’t nothing. Jesus calls you blessed.
4) Pray, Pray, Pray. When we consider persecution, we must always acknowledge how much worse it is for others. And so we must pray for them. Pray, pray, pray. And we must pray for ourselves – as good as we may have so far now. Because in decades to come we may not. Only God knows the future. We can pray for ourselves that we may be like Peter and John who rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.