Will We Be Spared Christian Persecution?
Chris' Corner -- Sunday, January 10, 2021
For those living in the US (a land of religious freedom, at least for now) it’s difficult to imagine going to our death for our faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this is a reality in many parts of the world.
Morning Star News reported an Islamic terrorist group in northern Nigeria, West Africa, attacked a town on Christmas Day, killing 6 Christians, kidnapping 11 others. Among those, 5 were executed a few days later. The horrifying incident was recorded on video. Before their deaths, each man stated his name, then added, “I’m a Christian.” Such strong faith and courage!
Statistics reveal Nigeria is only the 12th most dangerous place to be a Christian. The average number of those who die annually for their faith in Jesus Christ runs between 7,000 to 8,000 worldwide (some estimates are quite higher).
One statement from the lengthy Morning Star News article, caught my attention. A Christian leader, and the brother of one of the murdered men, sent out a text message. “Please let us keep the family in our thoughts and prayers in this trying time. May the blood of these martyrs keep speaking for the gospel. May the church not be frightened and discouraged, in Jesus name!”
When we consider the times in which the church began, it was difficult being a Christian in those days. They were persecuted from the beginning. The apostles’ lives were threatened, and eventually they were put to death for their faith in Christ. Some of these events are recorded in the Bible, others are found in historical accounts.
Early on, Saul “made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3; 9:1). This didn’t stop Christians from spreading the gospel. “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (8:4). The persecution of Christians went on for several hundred years.
Jesus warned His disciples of this very thing. “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…” (John 15:20). He encouraged all of us to be strong even in the face of death. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
At the close of the Bible, John revealed the words of Christ to the Christians in Smyrna, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days (this means a short time—CES). Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
What does all of this say, since the things written in the Bible were written for our learning (Romans 15:4)? Severe persecution may be something we will face someday. Paul said, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). If we are spared from facing the more extreme persecution we see going on in the world today, what about our children, grandchildren, and beyond? We need to do some serious and continuous praying on their behalf.
May God, through His mercy, see fit to avert or delay these difficult and trying times for many years to come.