The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess Him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular the representative, administering Spirit. A Christian is fearless. -Terrullian
We often think of torture when hearing the word “persecution,” but it doesn’t always have to be that. Actually, in America, it is rarely this. Persecution can also come in the form of disrespectful words, condescending thoughts, or making fun of beliefs. It has been my experience that often times Christians fear persecution, justifying to ourselves, “in order to build trust, I have to agree. And if I don’t build that trust, how will I ever lead others to Christ?” I’m not claiming that we need to be abrasive in our sharing; I am simply stating that as Christian’s we need to be bold in the truth. I hate to be the bearer of “bad news,” but if you are sharing the gospel freely and openly, you will receive persecution.
In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus tells us “Blessed are you when people insult and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven in great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Jesus is presenting an enormous mentality shift here. He is saying when you are insulted don’t fight back. Don’t retort. Don’t be disrespectful or rude or defensive. Because guess what? You will receive all sorts of rewards for being courageous and bold in your faith. And when people see this, they will insult you and they will persecute you.
I have found that in my own personal walk, the more vocal I am in my faith, the more push back I receive. To be honest, I am not a fan of making myself an example. My firm belief is that you should look to Christ and Christ only to lead you; no matter how wonderful other Christians are, we all live in a fallen state, and sin time and time again. However, I want to share with you a small example of persecution that happened in my own life. It is by no means a big one, but one that I felt was monumental in pressing boldly forward in my faith, simply for the fact that it was a realization that when living as an outspoken Christian, I will be mocked, shamed, disagreed with, and made fun of. I think it is important to be open about this because I want you to know that standing up for truth will place you between a rock and a hard place sometimes, and that’s okay. In fact that’s more than okay. Persecution is the mark of someone who is living his or her life fully and abundantly for Christ. In fact, about a year ago I started to pray for persecution. I’m sure some of you are thinking she is crazy! Why would anyone ever willingly want to be made fun of? But when we fit neatly into the world around us, no one will question us, no one will look at us differently, and no one will pay attention. Putting yourself out there might make some feel uncomfortable, defensive, scared or confused. But putting yourself out there also makes you different, which is most like Christ.
Several months ago, I began to proclaim vulnerably and consistently on social media biblical truths and aspects of my faith that I had not shared on such a platform before. I wanted to take advantage of the audience that social media presents, and I hoped to use this tool as a catalyst to spark conversations that otherwise may not be there. When I first started sharing, several of people around me started questioning. Even people I am close with pushed back a bit against my posts. I was (and sometimes still am) super self-conscious about putting myself out there so loudly, especially using an avenue (social media) that is so often picked apart. I didn’t know how others would respond, and I felt like I was really exposing myself. And then, shortly after I began writing, I noticed that one of my Facebook friends had written a post, literally taking word for word a sentence that I had shared, and openly poking fun at it. I was horrified. Not only did I feel raw and naked in front of my family and friends (some of who had questions about why I was doing what I was doing), I was now being made fun of on a very public place to people who knew me. I felt so ashamed, so dumb, and so bare. My thoughts jumped from I need to take this post down asap to maybe I should comment to how can I respond the way Christ did? The more I prayed, and sought support from a few close friends, the more I began to rejoice in this small, yet significant, act of persecution. The Spirit filled my heart with a sense of gratitude for using my words in a way that sparked conversation, regardless of if it was negative or not. Paul says in Philippians (talking to the church in Philippi) “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will… the former proclaim Christ out of self ambition… what then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (Philippians 1:15-18). Paul is telling the church of Philippi, Hey! The only thing that truly matters is that Christ’s name is being declared! It’s not about you and it’s not about me. The only song that needs to be sung is the one of Christ. And when you are shouting His praise, people are bound to talk.
Chin up, sister, you are not alone. Jesus never asks us to do anything that he has not done himself. In fact, He even warns us that in this life we will have many troubles, but to take heart, because He has overcome them all (found in John 16:33). Jesus was persecuted over and over again- made fun of, betrayed by his best friends, left out, gossiped about, beaten up, chased out of town, spit on, and shamed. He quite literally died nakedly exposed to all who gathered round. He was the epitome of man of sorrows. And as Christians, we are called to live the life that He lived; boldly proclaiming truth, no matter the cost.
After all, we were made for One mission. And that mission is Christ.
*Written by Abbie Meyer
Abbie is a 25 year old living out of the abundance of Jesus’ unending grace and mercy. She thrives off of deep vulnerability and connection with others. Often described as feisty, passionate, talkative, and compassionate, she’s an ENFJ through and through. You’ll most likely find her training for a race, hand-lettering or painting, whipping up a new healthy recipe in the kitchen, singing worship songs at the top of her lungs in the car, or watching the Office with her husband.
She can be contacted for blog contributing at: firstname.lastname@example.org.