Blessed are the Persecuted :: by Ron Graham

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10. Can we, as believers, actually look at persecution as a blessing? There probably isn’t a Christian alive today who is looking forward to a future filled with persecution with much excitement. Ours is the kingdom of Heaven and we will be persecuted before we leave this earth. Jesus’ Church has been persecuted from the outset. If we are truly His followers then we had better get use to the idea of persecution, and soon. Yes, even in America.

Have you noticed that the news media will put the name “Christian” on anything they perceive to be something they can use to condemn the Church? A Christian Evangelist who took young girls across state lines to engage in sex has, in the media’s view, been news worthy for weeks now. A Christian drifter on the beach in California was recently linked to killing two couples. The actual headlines themselves are quite telling they show just how much distain the secular news media has for all Christians. We’re hated and persecuted as the followers of Jesus Christ and condemned right along with the sex perverts, and murderers.

American media, being mostly secular, hasn’t a clue as to what it means to be a Christian. Through their ignorance of the truth, they seem to lump all professing Christians together in the same bad light. That’s like saying all Americans agree and follow Obama because he’s been elected president of the United States, which, as most of you well know, would be a huge error.

If believers are guilty by association then, yes, I’m guilty. But my guilt lies in being a devout follower of my Lord Jesus Christ, not with deviants who erroneously claim a kinship in His name. For example, I and many of my brethren claim no association with the man occupying the Oval Office. Although he claims to be a Christian, the lack of fruit in his life would move him closer to claiming a kinship with the aforementioned miscreants than with Christians. There’s no one who can legitimately claim a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and yet wholeheartedly stands against Him. That’s a notion wrought with failure. Christians don’t persecute Christians.

If there is any way to persecute the Church or to put an unfavorable look on us, the secular media will find it, even if they have to print half truths and misleading facts. Hollywood is behind much of the persecution of the Church. They assign top paid actors and directors to produce films that denigrate Christianity. They’re like wild dogs searching out a blood scent from ten miles away. They are relentless in their pursuit to bring down the Christian Church, and that means each individual Christian is in the line of fire. If there is any doubt in your mind as to the accusation I just made, step back and take a good look at Sarah Palin’s life over the past year or so. Whether or not you agree with her politics you must admit she’s endured far above her share of persecution. And it’s her biblical stance on the issues that the media can’t tolerate.

The news media and their satanic efforts of digging out corruption in the Christian community will never succeed at bringing down the Church. These folks will stop at nothing in their attempts to smash the Church and destroy it for good. And they laugh at Jesus’ followers as they proceed with their persecution of His Church. But Christians can take heart in Jesus words, “…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” Matthew 16:18b.

Although many believers here in the states live fairly comfortable lives, many of our brethren in foreign countries are suffering tremendous persecution including, at times, martyrdom all because they are known to follow Jesus Christ, period. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:12. Sounds like dome and gloom, Ron. Mark my words, people; what we once took for granted is disappearing. There’s a new dog in town.

It’s not that difficult to see the persecution coming our way. Many of my brethren have blinders on when it comes to viewing the US and the rest of the world falling into perfect step with one another. Much of the rest of the world has been building up to a confrontation with Christians for years as nations execute our brethren, destroy our places of worship, and eliminate any and all references to the Bible. Christians understand fully who it is these people really hate. Just His name seems to invoke hatred.

As we get farther and farther into the current administration’s four year stint, we’re beginning to see many signs that point to more and more animosity towards Christians, and as I stated before, this coming from a president claiming to be Christian. I suppose if the news media can believe a man who takes young girls across state lines for the sole purpose of having sex with them is a Christian, they can believe our president is one, too. Looking at all the gross, blatant, evil denigration made against Biblical truths these days we become more suspicious of our government and their agenda with each passing day.

The American culture is changing exactly as promised by you know who, just like the majority of voters wanted to see happen. Along with those changes came new restrictions aimed at the followers of Jesus Christ. Those of us who take the word of God literally will soon find new un-Constitutional restrictions imposed upon us which are designed to stop us from speaking Biblical truth. If we choose to stand on God’s infallible word we will find Christian persecution at every turn. Then again, many will just bury their heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. That won’t do them any good, though, unless they are prepared to renounce Christ. If not, they, along with the rest of the Church, will soon come to understand that persecution is most certainly upon us.

“Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” 2 Corinthians 4:9. Paul lived a life of almost continual trials after his conversion. He endured horrible persecution, probably much more than you or I will ever have occasion to experience in our lifetime, but then again who knows? The way in which the persecution can come upon the Church can be almost stealth-like at first. For example, the pulpits of our churches are to be silent when it comes to endorsing or speaking out against those running for political office; any Church found not following these guidelines can and will lose their tax exempt status. How would the IRS find out about this dastardly deed? Someone in the congregation would most certainly need to be a snitch. So, for the most part, the Church has caved in on that front. After awhile, though, that persecution won’t be enough. Soon orders will emerge from a hostile government telling us to stop using that hate-filled book, the Holy Bible, when we assemble or, again, we’ll lose that most revered and favored tax exempt status and much more. In a socialist society there’s no room for “people of the Book”. Paul knew that only his faith in Jesus’ power and victory could see him through his trials. The mind set demonstrated by Paul is necessary in every believer’s life today.

Believers must keep this very important fact in mind we aren’t suffering because of some evil deed we performed. We followers of Jesus Christ we’ll be judged for taking His name and rightly so. We should never feel ashamed if we suffer for Christ’s sake and in His name. “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:16, 17.

The world sees Jesus not as their savior, but as an antiquated intolerant, religious carpenter, or a myth. They see His precepts as being way too exclusive. They blaspheme Him daily in their ignorance and their pride. They use His name as profanity. They see His followers as foolish, non-participants of their ideal normal society. When the world recognizes us as Jesus’ followers, rejoice for that’s exactly how we should want to be known.

Depressing as this world may seem at times, we must remember that God triumphs in the end, which means we also win. As believers, our lives are in God’s hands and there is nothing to fear from this old sinful world, even though so many shun the truth and live the lie that currently permeates the world. I’m sure there are horror stories out there of all forms of Christian persecution of which I’ve not even scratched the surface in this commentary. But through our sufferings and persecutions we will see God accomplish great things. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” Matthew 5:11. The more we are persecuted the more we can revel in our afflictions and bask in God’s glorious love.

Honestly, after living 58 years in the U.S. of A, and for many of those years living as a worldly, ignorant, self-seeking, follower of Satan, it’s extremely refreshing now that Jesus rules and reigns in my life, to know I’m now on the winning team. During my early years as a believer I hadn’t really noticed the Church being persecuted. That’s because I was ignorant of the scriptures and didn’t recognize it. Persecution has always been around knocking at the door of the Church. Anytime we believers are forced to comply with laws or regulations which are contrary to the word of God, whether in America or any other nation it’s called Christian persecution.

For example, as American citizens we live in a country that murders millions of unborn babies and has done so for years. As believers we know this evil is contrary to the word of God, and yet, the Church has been unsuccessful at eliminating this scourge on society. As a matter of fact, with this current administration in place, abortion has now exploded with a new vigor. This current usurper of the Oval Office has made it his goal to eliminate all unwanted babies. Even those who escape the abortionist and live, he demands they be left to die on the garbage heaps. Your president, America, using your tax dollars to abort those innocent little ones God loves so dearly.

All laws which Congress passed or intends to pass in the future and which run contrary to the Bible, of which Christian are forced to adhere to or suffer dire consequeses, are Christian persecutions. Whether forced on us singularly, or collectively as Christ’s Church, it’s still persecution. What’s more, Jesus told us persecution and hatred, were coming. It would be extremely arrogant of believers to think He excluded those of us living in America from this persecution. No, my brethren, persecution of Christ’s Church is here and it’s only going to get worse.

You may ask, “What must we do to head off this persecution?” First of all, when Jesus says something is going to occur we would do well to heed what He says. As His followers we will be forced to endure persecution, He says so. I don’t know how much persecution or how severe it will be, and as far as heading it off, there will be a future event that will cause all Christian persecution to cease, at least temporarily. That event will be the Rapture of the Church. Those who are left behind and come to a believing faith during the tribulation will endure much worse persecution.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Church in American, as well as worldwide, has already been hit with tons of persecution. Still, in many countries the Church flourishes. Why is that? Because God says His word shall not return void. Christian evangelism is still prominent in many third world countries. In America though, many evangelist have turned emergent and no longer preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. If it’s not God’s word, then it’s not God’s will. Anything else is void.

What believers need is to get back into a routine of wearing out our knees. Humble ourselves before God in fervent prayer. Take it to Him every day. The hour is late and God waits to hear from His children. Sometimes I wonder how the world would react if believers just started humbling themselves out in the open. Not just mouthing silent prayers but verbally spoken prayers before God and all of His creation. I mean bowing our heads in prayer at a moment’s notice, in the middle of a shopping mall, in an airport, or in a crowed elevator. Some might poke fun, we might even be ridiculed (persecuted), but all would see God’s power revealed.

We see many individuals in public with purple hair and other characteristics that we find weird. We see men holding hands with men, and they all defy people to mock them. Why are Christians the ones who seem to be ashamed of our beliefs? Why can’t we be as blatant and obvious about our love for Jesus Christ?

Standing up for Jesus in all situations will bring persecution, that’s just the facts of life. But it doesn’t need to be a frightening experience. Actually it should bring an abundance of joy to our hearts. Our Christian brethren would be comforted and emboldened by witnessing other believer’s steadfastness. The Holy Spirit is sealed within every believer “…in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13, and He is thoroughly capable of handling any and all situations.

If we trust God to supply us with compassion and love as we witness to our neighbors shouldn’t we also trust Him to embolden us in the hour when it becomes necessary to address our persecutors? “…that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” Jude 1:3b.

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:8.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham