We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 1 Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians 2:2.
We the people tend to remember daring acts of bravery. Remember the Alamo; remember Pearl Harbor. We remember times when people do heroic things worthy of memory. You’ve (hopefully) heard the accounts of people in our world today who are being persecuted for believing in Jesus. That may seem like something from our distant past, like we of the ‘modern’ world have learned to live beyond such savagery. But the fact is that we haven’t. Just last week I read a story about how the communist government in China tore down a large church. The people who worshipped there are under surveillance, and it’s a good thing to assume quite a few have been questioned or arrested. Just for believing in Jesus.
And did you know that it is a crime that carries a death sentence to publicly declare or preach faith in Jesus in Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Pakistan? In Mauritania, Libya, Morocco, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh it is illegal to declare yourself as a Christian. In the workplace in many cities and states of America it is officially frowned upon to minister to others or even profess your faith (to be fair, not just faith in Jesus, yet faith in Jesus seems to be tolerated least of all).
Outrageous treatment? To be sure. Suffering for the faith? In many places in our world today, yes, this happens. Stand up for Jesus? No, that isn’t tough at all…
Those who dare to share the gospel in the face of this treatment are heroes. Indeed, it is energizing and invigorating to stand up for Jesus in the face of people who oppress you. It demonstrates courage and a belief in human dignity to act in ways that show the fruit of His Spirit, then to stand up and tell just why you do what you do. People remember that kind of thing, and I dare say most of them remember it with respect.
Read through Scripture to the end and you know that the end of all things is already foretold. Evil will be vanquished. God will once and for all destroy evil and relegate Satan and all who reject God to the terror of everlasting existence away from Him. Yet before all that happens we are told things will get even tougher for believers. Tough times are coming; you can even feel it in the air, and people are watching. What will they see you do? How will you be remembered?
For further reading: Acts 14:19, Acts 16:22, Philippians 1:30, 1 Thessalonians 2:3
Lord, thank You for preserving me through oppression and persecution. Be the steel in my spine and put Your words in my mouth when people challenge me to deny you.