The Bible promises that believers in Christ will experience persecution if we want to live for the Lord. In America, we have largely been sheltered from significant persecution for our faith in the past. But that is quickly changing. So it’s a good time to think about preparing for persecution now.
- Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Tim. 3:12
For many of us in the West, the thought of facing persecution for our faith is a pretty new thing. Despite the fact that believers throughout history and even around the world today have experienced intense persecution.
I think it is helpful to take this issue to the Lord and invite Him to prepare and equip us so that we might stand firmly for Him no matter what may come.
5 Ways to Think About Christian Persecution Rightly
1. Never allow yourself to be persecuted for doing what is wrong in God’s eyes.
We are to do good to all people and to overcome evil with good. We should never be obnoxious or lash out sinfully at others and then count people reacting to our misdeeds and wrong attitudes as persecution for the sake of Christ.
- Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27-28
- A servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, and forbearing. He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Tim. 2:24-25
- Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Pet. 4:19
2. Receive the truth that persecution for Jesus’ sake and for doing good is a great blessing.
This goes totally against our human wisdom. We don’t like preparing for persecution or facing persecution. We want things to be easy. But the truth is that persecution strengthens individual believers and the church. This is why we are to rejoice when it happens to us.
Persecution brings about much fruitfulness as we learn to depend on Christ more than ever and allow Him to work powerfully in and through us, laying down our will and our lives for His glory.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt. 5:10-12
- But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled. 1 Pet. 3:14
3. Have a healthy, reverential fear and awe of God. Seek His approval above all else.
We must remember how dangerous it is to be afraid of people or to seek their approval first, that is a type of idolatry that deeply offends the Lord.
Persecution tempts us to compromise our convictions and God’s Word. It tempts us to be afraid of people and what they may do to us. We may lose our jobs, our bank accounts, our freedom of speech, our ability to assemble to worship. We may be mocked, silenced, imprisoned, tortured, or even killed.
Jesus instructs all who would follow Him to count the cost of discipleship. This means preparing for persecution for our faith is normal for believers. Persecution for following Jesus and doing what is right is always a possibility for us.
- “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” Luke 12:4-5
- So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Heb. 13:6
- For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal. 1:10
- It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Ps. 118:8
In preparing for persecution, remember that a spirit of fear of people is not of God.
- For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim. 1:7
- There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18
4. Remember that the world hated Jesus first, so they will hate us, too. He promised this.
We are not to be surprised that the world hates us. We belong to a heavenly kingdom, not the kingdom of this world. We are at odds and are incompatible. Those who follow Satan and are spiritually dead and blind always persecute those who follow the Lord. They are ensnared and need Jesus and the gospel. They are potential fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
- “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. John 15:18
- And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matt. 10:22
- Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:13-15
5. Die to self, picking up your cross each day.
A huge part of following Jesus is that we lay down our lives for His sake in every way. We are living sacrifices for Him (Rom 12:1-2). We lay down our will and our desires and seek to follow and obey Him, whatever the cost because He is worthy of our all.
We seek to hold loosely to the things of this world and cling tightly to Jesus and things that matter in eternity.
- Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25
- I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20
How to Prepare for Persecution
Scripture is full of ways we can strengthen our faith and trust in God. It’s also full of examples of heroes of the faith who stood strong in the face of adversity and persecution.
- Stay in the Word. Stand on the truths and promises of Scripture more than ever.
- Know who you are in Christ and cling to Him.
- Continue to meet together with other believers.
- Pray and invite God to draw you to Himself, to refine and purify you and to equip and prepare you for what is ahead.
- Decide in advance that you will follow Jesus no matter what may come. Ask God to empower you to be faithful to Him.
- Don’t compromise the Word of God for the world. Cultivate sound doctrine and ask God to help you rightly discern false teaching so you can reject it. False teaching is rampant and will become even more widespread the closer we get to the end.
- Diligently teach your children to have a biblical worldview.
- Develop a habit of praising and thanking God in all things.
- Ask God to bless His people and to bring about His will and His kingdom on earth.
- Pray for those who mistreat you and the Body of Christ.
- Continually repent of any known sin in your own life. Ask God to empower you to live a holy life by His Spirit.
- Develop a sense of total dependence on God.
- Study the lives of believers who have been faithful, unwavering, and bold for Christ, even in the face of persecution. People like Corrie Ten Boom, the apostles, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, Andrew Brunson, and many others. Read Hebrews 11, the Hall of Fame of Faith. And read the stories of all of the people mentioned there for inspiration and encouragement.
- Study Bible prophecy and be familiar with what the last days will look like and what we can expect, trusting God and His plan and sovereignty.
- Share the gospel and Life-giving truth of Scripture with urgency. Shine brightly for Jesus, making the most of the time.
Pray with Me
We thank You that You are in full control over this world and the nations. We thank and praise You that You will never leave us or forsake us. We invite You to prepare and equip us, our families, our children, and Your people for what is ahead.
Let us be bold, strong, and courageous. Let us have great faith in You, shining with joy, peace, and cheerfulness for Your kingdom. Let us be fruitful for you and Spirit-filled.
We lay down our will and our lives for You, Lord. You alone are worthy of any sacrifice we can give. Your Kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
Let us not give way to fear or panic. Thank You that You are refining us. We bless you and trust You with all our hearts. Be glorified in our lives, our families, and Your church. Be glorified in America and every nation around the world.
Let us be faithful to You. For You are always faithful to us.
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If you have experienced persecution and would like to share godly wisdom with us, we would love to hear about your experiences.
If you would like to pray for all of us in the comments, you are also welcome to do so.
Note: Let’s focus on Christ and His Word and on our faith in Him and the spiritual battle ahead. This is not a political battle, but one in the spiritual realm. We will need spiritual weapons and preparation. So I would ask that we not comment on the political right now, but on the spiritual.
Let’s commit to praying for all of our leaders in our nation and around the world. And let’s avoid foolish arguments that only produce quarrels. Seeking instead to know Christ and the power of His gospel and the unity He desires us to have that we can only experience in His Body as we align ourselves with His truth alone.