Persecution and Promises



Then they left—rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.[1]

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.[2]

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."[3]

The early revelation and disclosure of Jesus as the Messiah did not enter the world to a welcoming public. Jesus died. Stephen died. Peter died. Ten of his buddies died.[4] Paul died. For those of us who’ve been born into Bible-friendly lands, we’re strangers to the persecution of the Scriptures. Prophets are infrequently stoned upon our steps. In fact, I believe we are too inclined to cry “wolf!” Our brothers and sisters in closed nations, hostile regimes and next door to jihad and genocide don’t have the luxury of citing the First Amendment when deciding whether or not to bake cakes for gay weddings. They don’t have the luxury of reading a Bible next to a window, let alone in public—if they have a Bible at all.

We do not treasure abuse and persecution, but we are inclined to expect it. Jesus knew He would be murdered—but He wasn’t eager to get thrown off a cliff because the mobs got a little carried away with rage.[5] There is a time and season for living, but there is also a time and season for dying. When His Father brought the cup before Him, He drank it to its dredges.[6] If we are disciples of the slaughtered Lamb,[7] we have no reason to expect a safe life and a painless death.

Why, then, does our Father allow this? Because He intends to display “the manifold wisdom of God through the Church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”[8] This was written by the guy who got thirty-nine lashes five times, locked up, shipwrecked, scourged and murdered because he preached the Gospel. It isn’t about megachurches and big ministries. Our Lord has no reason to show “manifold wisdom” to treacherous demons He created through flashy lights and fog machines and a bunch of pre-trial Jobs. He has reason to subject His people to the same suffering witness He displayed before His resurrection. After His resurrection, He didn’t suffer anymore. 

We won’t either.

 


Stephanie Quick is the military brat middle child to two Midwestern Catholics, and serves as a lead writer and producer of the Covenant and Controversy film series and resource library, and editor-in-chief of FAI Publishing and Pilgrim Media. She can be reached for queries and bookings at stephanie@stephaniequick.org

 

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[1]   Acts 5:41
[2]   Philippians 1:12-14
[3]   Romans 8:35-36
[4]   John the Beloved is the only one of the twelve apostles who didn’t die a martyr’s death, except for Judas Iscariot (who killed himself for his involvement in Jesus’ arrest and death). These accounts are recorded in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
[5]   See Luke 4:28-30
[6]   See Luke 22:41-44
[7]   See Isaiah 53
[8]   Ephesians 3:8-13