He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… John 1:10-12
The most recent edition of the famous prayer manual, Operation World, was published in November 2010 and was quick to highlight as a global trend, “...The rise in levels of persecution – especially for Christians.” The editors of the Operation World explained why:
“The end of the European colonial era, the end of Christianity’s status as state religion in most of the West and the resurgence of religious sentiments globally, especially fundamentalism, all mean that Christians generally no longer operate from a position of power or privilege. Christians are subject to persecution in much of the world. Evangelicals are subject to even more due to their proselytism and commitment to the uniqueness of Christ. The presence of persecution and hardship in the life of the Church appears to be normative in Scripture; contexts where persecution does not exist at all should be as much a cause for concern as places where it is intense.”
Open Doors’ Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan concludes:
In the end, the rise of persecution is paradoxically for Christians something to protest and to celebrate, for as a Beijing house church pastor says, “The church is always persecuted when it does something right...it shows Christ to a world that rejects him.” Persecution is the continual replaying of John chapter one verses ten and eleven: “[Jesus] came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, but even they rejected him.” And so in the challenging words of a Palestinian pastor, “Every Christian must rejoice to be persecuted, and fight for Christ to be recognized in the midst of suffering, for suffering is the gift by which we see our need of Him who came for us and loves us.”
RESPONSE: As Christians, persecution is not something to avoid but to celebrate.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to rejoice when persecution comes my way – whether mild, medium or hot! And help me to fight for Christ to be recognized in the midst of the suffering.