“Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”
Persecution is something that has been around ever since sin entered into the world, and has been a constant companion to the Christian throughout the ages. With this being the case, people then begin to ask why. Why must persecution in the life of a believer be there at all? What purpose does it serve? Why does it have to be so hard?
All these questions can come flooding into your mind as a Christian and can cause confusion and hurt when not properly dealt with from God’s point of view.
The word persecution in Greek means just what you thought it would, to suffer, be harassed and beaten, be made to flee/run, or to be pursued.
With this sort of meaning one might think ‘Why would God allow this sort of thing in his world?’ The answer to this lies in the beauty of being human.
You see, in order to give the human race the ability to choose between right and wrong, God had to give them the opportunity to do so. Otherwise we would just be mindless robots doing what God wanted but still falling short of the relationship he really made us for. With this new freedom to choose came the risk of choosing the wrong thing. We blew it in the Garden of Eden and ever since then mankind has chosen to go their own way rather than God’s way. So blaming God for the state this world is in is like taking a wreaked car back to the manufacturer and saying “why did you make it this way?” Suffering was a forewarned result of the choices we made and persecution can fit into that category.
So you see, persecution was not what God wanted to happen, but knowing that it would happen, He made it so that He could use it to bring about good as it says in Rom 8:28. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”. Therefore it seems as though persecution or suffering rather than being the be all and end all, it is the crucible through which something precious is formed.
We have examples of this all through the Bible. From Noah and the people who thought he was crazy, to Elijah and the Queen who sought to kill him, to David and the time when he was chased around the countryside by Saul, or Paul and his various trials. These situations at the time looked bleak and never ending but through them God brought about so many incredible blessings that still affect us to this day and the people themselves were stronger for it.
The question of why the believer goes through persecution is answered in two parts. One; Satan loves to steal, kill and destroy and especially targets Christians because they are God’s children and they spread His word of love over the Earth. In his blind delusion the Devil cannot see that God has made another way to respond to this persecution and suffering for the believer. You could go into the fire and give in to it believing that there is nothing else and you very well may be eaten up and destroyed by its flames. Or you could go into the fire with the firm foundation of the promises of God that He will bring you through and he knows exactly what he is doing. Two; Because of this second way God allows certain things to happen in your life so that if you make the right choice you will come through the fire as a precious metal purified and sanctified for his good work. The hotter the fire, the greater the pressure, the more pure the gem returns on the other side of the flames.
Speaking of the great pressure and flame of the crucible, Jesus Christ Himself went through the worst persecution of all time when He died on the Cross for the sins of every person in history, including you and me. The most terrible part was not the lashings on his back or the scoffing and mocking or even being nailed to the cross. No it was when the Father turned his face away and poured out on Christ all of humanity’s sins and failures. Then Christ suffered the righteous and fully justified punishment for all of our sins paying the price in full. This at the time looked like the end, but Christ came through and on the third day he rose again. He became the precious gem at the end because He Himself had been made the way in which mankind could reconcile with his Creator.
So in conclusion remember, though things look dark and the pressure is on, do not give in to it, give in to Christ, rest in him and on the work that he has done.