Persecution

These past months I've been reading 1 Peter for my early morning daily devotions. Penned by the apostle of Christ, and from whom the book was named, this New Testament epistle encourages the early Christian believers to live victoriously in the midst of persecution.

The pictures going through my mind were those recorded in the Fox's Book of Martyrs (you can read the book online for free). The ordeals the early Christians had to go through, especially during the time of the infamous Emperor Nero, were gruesome. At the time it was one thing for the early believers to say they believed in Christ, but to boldly profess and demonstrate faith in the face of shame and persecution—that was supernatural.

And yet Peter wrote to them in this way:

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:6-7)

An ordinary person wouldn't rejoice in the face of Death; he would panic. But Christians are no ordinary people. They have crossed from death to life, all because of Jesus' substitutionary work on the Cross. In fact, Peter writes, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

Why should Christians rejoice in the face of persecution?

Because regardless of what trials they may face in this life, they have an "inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for [them], who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:4-5).

This was what the early believers did—they endured pain and hardships for Jesus. The Lord has done something to them. He has changed their lives and their purpose for living.

Reading 1 Peter has rebuked me greatly. I live in a free country where people aren't prohibited from owning Bibles or going to church or prayer gatherings. And yet many times I take these privileges for granted. I forget that outside the Philippines, many followers of Christ are being threatened, persecuted, and killed—and I don't even pray for them!

That people have risked their lives for their faith proves either of these two things: that they are deceived, disoriented, and insane fanatics, or that their testimony about the One who had suffered and died for their sins on that wooden cross is, in fact, true.

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Let us pray for the persecuted Church. Head over to Open Doors or PersecutedChurch.org for details.

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