As mentioned yesterday, as followers of Jesus Christ in the 21st century, we must keep our eyes on the destination, not the difficulties we endure along the way. We also need to know what to expect in times of persecution and what guidance Jesus gave us to help us through it.
Both Jesus and Peter warned about persecution for those who follow him. In John 15:18, 20b Jesus said, “18 If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. … 20b Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.”
As Ben mentioned, the most infamous early Roman persecution came from Emperor Nero, who had Christians covered in wax, tied to trees, and burned alive to illuminate his gardens at dusk to name but one of the many heinous crimes he committed against early Christians. Interestingly, it wasn’t even because they loved Christ. It was because Nero needed a scapegoat to turn the wrath of his people away from him. They were blaming him for the infamous fire that burned down all but three sections of Rome in 64 A.D. The rumor was that Nero “fiddled while Rome burned,” though his actual involvement in the cause of the fire was unclear. So, he blamed the Christians and hunted them down.
How could these precious Christ followers go through such horrible suffering and death with their faith intact?
In John 15:26, Jesus warns his disciples that terrible trials will come their way because they love and obey him. He also reminded them that he will send them the Holy Spirit who will imbue all his followers with the knowledge of God’s love and grace. It is this love and grace that we should then share with others.
1 “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. 2 For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. 3 This is because they have never known the Father or me. 4 Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning.”
So, whatever trial you find yourself in, know that your today is not your forever. Stay focused on your destination—eternity with God where you will be living in the light of his glory. Finally, remember you are not alone on your way there. The Holy Spirit and God’s holy Word are our infallible GPS through thick and thin.
1 Peter 1:8
So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
What will you do if persecution for being a Christ follower comes your way?
Are you taking the Lord’s advice about how to be ready for that day?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 and ask God to fill you with the peace of knowing this truth. Rest in the power of his love regardless of the circumstances.
As we continue through 1 Peter this week, we focus on 1 Peter 3 today.
Feel free to simply read through the chapter. Or, you can listen to it through the StreetLights Bible. Download their app or visit them online at http://www.streetlightsbible.com.
Lord, thank you for being my strength in all things. Please help me to draw closer to you and spend time with you daily so I can draw on your strength when trouble or opportunity comes. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This post was written by Martha Preckler. Martha loves Jesus and growing closer to him every day. She loves serving on the Sparkle Team and Greeter Team, as a Landing Leader, GrowthTrack hostess, and fill-in writer for LIO. Martha is the grateful mother of two grown sons and one daughter-in-law. Both sons are good writers, but one is a published urban fantasy writer and self-proclaimed grammar dictator, which he swears he picked up from his mother. She has been a Toledo Business Journal contributor, speech writer, as well as creator of dozens of promotional pieces for seniors’ events and programming offer by the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo.
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