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11 Important Things Every Christian Should Know about Persecution

Tamela Turbeville

iBelieve Contributor
Updated Aug 19, 2019
11 Important Things Every Christian Should Know about Persecution

There is an unspoken belief among Western Christians that we are immune to persecution. We are protected in ways that Christians living overseas and in anti-Christian nations are not, and our religious freedom may give us a false sense of security.

The restrictions and persecution suffered by followers in hostile nations would challenge some of the most outspoken gospel-preaching Christians. Our Western culture and protections provide us with luxuries and comforts that make us complacent and unprepared for persecution. The truth is we are not immune, and according to Scripture, all Christians should expect persecution (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Jesus knew He would suffer, and He warned the disciples they would be treated the same because of their identity with Him.“Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). If the world hates Jesus, the world hates His followers.

Paul, too, knew persecution. He often warned followers of the suffering to come. The apostle penned his last words while awaiting execution to his beloved friend Timothy. He warned the young preacher the times would grow perilous and men would grow increasingly evil (2 Timothy 3:1). Paul wanted Timothy to be prepared. Paul nor Timothy avoided what was coming, and neither can we. "In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12).

Aware that perilous times are coming, how can Christians be ready? Here are 10 Important things Christians should know about persecution.

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1. Followers of Christ are assured of persecution.

1. Followers of Christ are assured of persecution.

Jesus was sent by God to show the world its sin. His message was in direct conflict to worldly standards, and so He was hated and persecuted. In John 15:21, Jesus says, "But all these things they will do to you on account of my name because they do not know him who sent me." Jesus warns Christians they will be treated in the same way He was treated. If your life is visibly Christ-centered, expect persecution. If you have hidden your Christianity in worldly pursuits, you may avoid suffering. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

2. Some persecution is subtle.

Satan is the manipulator of persecution, but not all of his tactics are overt and brutal. Often he whispers lies and convinces us that if we live boldly in our Christianity, we might lose something valuable like our job, our friends, or the respect of our peers. Satan's greatest victory is helping us become comfortable in the world and quiet about Jesus. "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Romans 10:14

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3. Persecution is an opportunity to honor Jesus.

3. Persecution is an opportunity to honor Jesus.

When persecution comes, Christians will be mocked and scorned for believing in God and following Jesus. Our first response might be anger and retribution, but our answers should mirror that of Jesus. "But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).

He was relentlessly mocked, spat upon and brutally beaten, but He stayed quiet. He was able to call down all the power of heaven. Instead, He did not open his mouth. According to Scripture, our answer to ridicule is kindness and goodwill. "For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil" (1 Peter 3:17).

4. Sharing in Christ's suffering is a privilege.

The apostle Paul saw suffering as a privilege. Paul wrote "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11). Our Savior endured a painful, humiliating death as the only suitable sacrifice for sin. As a Christian, suffering because we follow Christ allows us to understand better what He endured on our behalf.

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5. Suffering allows us to comfort others.

5. Suffering allows us to comfort others.

No suffering is ever wasted. In our distress, the God of all Comfort eases our pain, building our strength and trust in Him. Our opportunity then is to comfort those experiencing the same pain. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:4-5). 

6. Endure persecution without complaining or arguing.

"Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation" (Philippians 2:14-15). When in pain, it's reasonable to complain. Enduring suffering without protesting is more difficult. Yet, as Christ followers, we are commanded to be a light in the darkness, pure and blameless, and bear with others in love. 

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7. Persecution advances the gospel.

7. Persecution advances the gospel.

Paul wrote his letter to the Philippian followers to encourage their faith. In his letter penned from a prison cell, he says, "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel" (Philippians 1:12). When Paul endured beatings, shipwrecks, and snake bites, and being chained to a guard, everyone knew it was because of Jesus. Each time we face persecution for our faith, the world knows it's because of Jesus.

8. We must renounce any inclination for revenge. 

"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord" (Romans 12:9). When we bear persecution for our faith, our first inclination is to give back as much as was given—to take revenge. As Christians, we are called to leave vengeance to God. He is the only righteous judge of sin.

Christians are also called to go further than renouncing revenge. We are also commanded to love others as ourselves. "'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:18).

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9. God is among the persecuted.

9. God is among the persecuted.

Repeatedly in Scripture, God admonishes us to "not be afraid." God knows we will be frightened in the face of persecution. God knows we will need His strength to endure, and He will be with us. As God said to Joshua, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). 

10. At worst, death comes.

"For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:8). Paul struggled between preferring life or death. "To live is Christ, to die is gain. Yet what shall I choose?" (Philippians 1:21 ) He stood up under unimaginable suffering, yet believed to die and be with Christ would be better. Understandably, for us, losing our life to persecution is a frightening thought. A more frightening alternative would be to deny Christ. As Christians, this earth is not our home and if persecution takes our life, then God will welcome us home. 

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11. The reward will be great.

11. The reward will be great.

Bearing persecution for our faith will be difficult and could cost our lives. But it will be small and insignificant compared to the eternal rewards. 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, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

For the moment, we live in comfort and relative safety as Christians, but if you follow Jesus, persecution will happen. Take refuge in knowing that God will not leave us alone. In His grace, He will strengthen, comfort, and then reward His children for their steadfast faith and endurance. 

Tamela Turbeville has a desire for every woman with a difficult past to know God loves them. She is wife to Richard, and mother to three grown sons and two beautiful daughter-in-law. When doing what she loves most-- studying God’s Word, reading and writing--she is surrounded by her six rescue dogs in her small office in south Arkansas. She began Living One Word to write and share how God redeems the unlovable and you can read more about Tamela, her journey, and her family at www.livingoneword.com, on Facebook, and Instagram

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Originally published Monday, 19 August 2019.