Blessed Are You
When Jesus sent out the Twelve on their first mission to preach the kingdom of God, he told them that they would face opposition, saying to them, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). The whole passage makes it clear that Jesus wasn’t just talking about their ministry but also that of generations to come, especially in the last days. When the gospel is truly preached, Christians will face persecution for preaching it.
Last Sunday, Jordan Coros, our interim youth director, and I began a two-message series on persecution titled, Remember my Chains. In message one, we looked at what persecution is and isn’t and defined and illustrated it from the Bible and history by looking at specific examples of believers who were oppressed and even martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ.
This Sunday in message two, Jordan and I will ask and answer four questions that will help us understand what’s happening in the world today by looking at some places and people facing intense persecution. That should move us to both prepare ourselves for the coming persecution here as well as to support the churches and believers worldwide who are experiencing persecution now. If ever there was a time for us to heed the words of Jesus and, “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” it is now.
REMEMBER MY CHAINS
Blessed Are You
Pastor Todd Dugard & Jordan Coros
July 28, 2019
Q1. How are Christians “blessed” by persecution?
1 Peter 4:12-14
Q2. Where is persecution happening in the world today?
The persecution takes various forms. The bloodshed of Sri Lanka was of a particular kind; it was well-organized with four churches bombed as well as Western-style hotels, and well-planned. A religious holiday was the date underlined in the bombers’ calendar. Elsewhere, in such countries as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christians are tolerated but suffer discrimination in such areas as employment, and in many countries there is state oppression by political regimes. The future of Christianity is particularly grim in the North Africa and the Middle East, the very cradle of Christianity. In Egypt the Copts, who belong to one of the most ancient Christian traditions, have been targeted over and over again, after centuries of living peacefully with their Muslim neighbours…In China, the Communist political regime is responsible for oppression akin to that within the U.S.S.R. The government attempts to monitor and control the practice of religion through the state-sanctioned Patriotic Catholic and Patriotic Protestant Churches, but most of the country’s 100 million Christians belong to unregistered churches, which are regularly closed down and members detained in camps.
Catherine Pepinster, National Post
“In America,” he said, “the church has experienced prosperity and is growing weaker. In China, the church has experienced persecution and growing stronger. Persecution is much better than prosperity.”
Pastor Samuel Lamb
Q3. How can we best prepare for the coming persecution?
- Stand for the right things
As evangelical morality increasingly comes into conflict with dominant cultural mores, evangelicals need to be even more careful about the debates we chose to engage in, the rights we chose to assert, and the hills we choose to die on. Too much is at stake for evangelicals to waste our resources and credibility on frivolous and occasionally self-provoked “injustices.” Imagined offenses drummed up by sensationalists and fear-mongers should be exposed and denied. At times, even legitimate offenses should be overlooked, when they are petty. By focusing attention on real and substantial incidences of persecution, evangelicals will be much more effective at educating their neighbors and fighting for truly important matters of religious liberty.
Alan Noble, The Atlantic
- Maintain an eternal perspective
- Jeremiah 20:11
- Persevere in your faith
- Luke 16:110a
- 2 Thessalonians 1:4
- Keep crying out to God
- Revelation 6:10
- Remember who the enemy is (and isn't)
- Acts 7:59-60
- Revelation 6:9-11
Q4. How can we help those being persecuted around the world today?