"When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory." Ephesians 3:4-13 (ESV)
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5.10
As we seek to live a godly life in obedience to Christ, we will at times find those around us who do not like it. During the days of the Protestant reformation, there was much persecution of those who were seeking a purer form of biblical reality in their lives and in their communities. Today even Catholic theologians acknowledge that much of what happened in the Reformation was necessary and good, that gross errors had come into the Church and needed to be corrected. Often transformation for good comes with immense opposition.
Today, research shows that the most persecuted group of people globally are Christians, people who call themselves by the name of Christ and are seeking to follow after him. The numbers are staggering. It is happening in many countries and among many ethnic groups. In a number of settings, taking a stand for Jesus Christ, being baptized and choosing to align with Christ brings immediate persecution, and sometimes death. We are seeing this in a number of places where we work, and let us pray for the courage and the faith of those who are spreading the message of Christ, knowing that this kind of opposition is what they are facing. And let us pray for those who are coming to faith in Christ, and facing this kind of persecution.