Many a new Christian has gone home to joyously announce their baptism, only to be met with incredulity. Much to the surprise of the brand-new saint, their family members were suddenly claiming deep spiritual affection for the religion of their fathers; even though they had never mentioned such convictions before in their lifetimes. In other words, “Keep your religion to yourself!”
It goes without saying that no one becomes a Christian hoping to be ignored or attacked for their faith. In fact, given that it is the goodness of God that draws the sinner to Christ and his church, it comes as a shock when friends and family reject all attempts to share that goodness.
Amazingly, Jesus prepares us for the hostilities of the unbelievers, not by arming us with weapons of war, but by pronouncing a blessing:
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11).
This blessing makes no sense unless we stress that which motivates us to endure those such persecutions. What inspires us to persevere are Jesus’ words, “Because of me.” Only with our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus will we “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:12).
Jesus throws our minds back to the age of the great Old Testament prophets. He says, “For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12).
It was said in those Old Testament times: “The prophet is considered and fool, [and] the inspired man a maniac” (Hosea 9:7). So, who are we to expect better from a world antagonistic towards the Jesus that they announced centuries ago?
The stability of our congregations depend upon our ability to endure the devil’s attacks against our faith. Remember, you are “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).