“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” (1) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, now powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us fro the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-38
Recently I have read accounts of people being persecuted for their Christian faith. Not the persecution of American Christians where crosses are being banned, or even the fight for the right to post Scriptures on signs in public view. No, I’m speaking of persecution where villages are burned, people are being hacked to death (2) and even beheaded as their children watch in horror.(3)
These are the stories that disturb our thinking. We may know events of this nature take place in our world, but because they are not featured in mainstream media, it’s easy to put them out of our minds. The thought of someone being brutally murdered is troubling, but being beheaded for his or her faith rages against our sense of personal freedom. We like to think everyone has a right to believe as they choose to, and reports of this type of persecution seems harsh and unreal in our modern world.
Even though Jesus warned times of trouble would come to those who chose to follow Him (4) , we want to gloss over the disturbing truth about Christianity. We want the Prince Charming fairy tale rescuer Jesus, not the Jesus who unites us with Him in His suffering and persecution. Paul understood what it meant to be persecutor and persecuted. As one who had previously persecuted the early believers, after his experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus (5) , he became persecuted. His encounter with Jesus radically redirected his life as he was persuaded by truth.
Truth compels and is persuasive. Truth empowers the believer to do the extraordinary, even when the truth is disturbing. Truth makes even the prisoner free. Jesus is truth. He said it Himself. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) When we know truth, even when circumstances around us are difficult or life threatening, we are empowered to stand strong. I am persuaded, nothing can separate me from the truth I know.
To learn more about the persecuted church go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: https://www.persecution.com
4. John 16:33
5. Acts 9