"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.'" -Matthew 5:11 (NIV)
What comes to mind when you hear the word "persecution"? How do you respond when you hear of Christians truly suffering for their faith? Have you ever thought to yourself, "I don't know what I would do if I faced imprisonment, torture, or even death because of my faith in Jesus"?
I'd love to offer you words of consolation, but the Word doesn't give us any reason to believe that we're exempt from persecution. In fact, Paul instructed Timothy that, "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted". Christ, himself emphasized the cost of following Him, often dissuading His listeners from doing so. For those willing to follow Him despite the cost, however, He promised immeasurable blessing, peace, and joy.
Why is it then, that we feel sorry for those who suffer for their faith? Jesus didn't present a sugar-coated picture of a life full of the riches of this world; He presented a sobering picture of a life marked by blessing despite suffering, abundance despite persecution.
An honest reading of scripture affirms that comfort, safety, and security are the currencies of the World, not of the Kingdom. May we not retreat from our call to faithfully proclaim His goodness out of the fear of persecution. May we not weigh every decision based on the perceived cost to us or our family. Rather, may we find our peace and security in Christ and boldly follow Him, no matter the consequences.