Blessed are you when they revile and
persecute you, and say all kind of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so
they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12.
Persecuted Christians by the present
Islamic extremism; Christians persecuted by the Roman Empire in the fist
centuries; Christians persecuted by the western society, for their Biblical
values of Jesus Christ, and the Jews persecuted by the Egyptians, as well as
Noah was, they all share the same cause: To be the people of God and to
expect the Kingdom of Heaven, to enter in it for eternity, which we announce
through the Gospel.
Martin Luther King Jr. expressed in one
single sentence a great denounce of what we see today happening before the
abandon of persecuted Christians, tortured, massacred before the impassivity
of the western world, who does have resources to keep their way of life and
economy, priorities that show the impiousness of many. What worried King was
the silence of the good people before those things that matter. In the same
way we cannot remain silent and without action before the persecution of the
Church in the world (in its different branches), as we can neither be before
those who suffer, and in this we find as much, "The Sermon of the Mount",
Matthew 5 ...Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
because they shall be filled... as well as the "Judgment to the Nations"
Matthew 25:31-46 ...for I was hungry and you gave Me food...
The current situation of extreme and
radical persecution that part of the Church suffers in countries like Iraq,
Syria or South Sudan surely is going to produce an international military
reaction that will come late for hundreds of thousands of people. But, what
the Church in deed can do –which in a great manner, even by Christians does
not count with the recognition it deserves– is to pray. Prayer has the power
to change people, to organize armies, to move the political powers, but even
more to give carriage to those brethren who suffer the persecution and face
LOVE THOSE WHO
When the apostle Paul began his
persecution against the first Christians, backed by the priests of the
Temple of Jerusalem, participating in the death by stoning of Stephen, no
one could imagine that he would convert as the greatest communicator of the
Gospel of all the apostles and that he would conquer his world with the Word
of God, as far as to give his life for our Lord Jesus Christ. We do not know
who were praying for him, but we do know the Holy Spirit who moves the
hearts of the Church for the battle of the spiritual army, who fights the
battles in prayer, preaching, denounce and action.
Many radicals of all times have
converted to Christ by hearing the Gospel. To be valiant to preach Christ
to those who may kill you is a work that the Holy Spirit does in those
persecuted and in the martyrs. Many that persecute the Church are won by the
Gospel and by prayer, because God hears and intervenes, as it was the very
case of the apostle Paul. This is why we must love our enemies and pray for
them, because, who knows if we will win them for salvation!
WHY IS THE CHURCH PERSECUTED?
The Gospel announces the entry to the
Kingdom of God for eternity to those that believe, raising from the dead,
and giving the Kingdom to those who dye in Christ. The world is contrary to
the Kingdom of God, it is, in part a temporary kingdom of the devil who
fights to take the souls from God. In case some may not remember, this war is being fought in the spiritual dimension, in the celestial regions,
the souls for which Jesus the Messiah gave His life for on the Cross. The
true Church announces the Kingdom of Heaven and also shows the nature of the
Kingdom of God "amongst you" Luke 17:21 when we love one another, and that
way we show that we are His disciples.
It is provoking to the temporary
kingdom of the evil one, to have to stand the Church. Jesus already told us
that the world would hate us, and that we were to know, that they had hated
Him before us, John 15:18. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute
you", but immediately He says: "If they have kept My Word, they
shall keep yours also" John 15:20. Revelation 12:13 ...Now when the dragon
saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman two gave
birth to male Child... ...and he went to make war to the rest of her
offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus
Christ. Revelation 12:17.
The other persecution, not so told in
the news nowadays, but equally painful and fundamental to the fight against
the Church, is in the family of our own, and in the land of our own,
and amongst the friends of the childhood. Jesus was not believed by His
family, John 7, until they saw His works.
Christian persecution is followed to
date by ministries like Open
Doors, who monitor all the activity in the world against Christians,
providing a centre of divulgation, coordination and help, prayer and support
to the persecuted Church.
That Christians are persecuted brutally
is evident because we can see it in the news, that the Church has been from
day one of its existence, we know it through history. That the Church would
be persecuted was announced by Jesus Christ Himself. The question, without a
doubt, many times concentrates in identifying the type of persecution in the
eschatological or historical-chronogolical place, instead of concentrating
in helping the brothers. This is important, without ignoring the other,
because having knowledge of prophecies is important. Normally its to do with
placing the persecution in the time called the "Grate Tribulation" that some
place in the time of the first century, 70A.C. others before the coming of
Christ, and others after for those left.
The final question about persecution
tries to find how its related with the three eschatological positions by
excellence and about the Millennium: Premillennialism, Postmillennialist and
Amillennialism. According to Postmillennialism, the Church would win the
world as time passes, but history gives testimony that it is impossible. The
other two options accept the Biblical planning that at the end of time the
Antichrist would come, 2Thesalonians 2, and apostasy, before the second
coming of Christ. In deed the world is taking a turn in which we see three
details that are very relevant –I
believe that concluding: An ecumenism of churches that before would
excommunicate each other (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) which now unite
without rejecting their different doctrines. A western world contrary to
Christianity, and persecuting from radical Islamism. And a return of Israel
to their land from all the countries of the world for the increase of
anti-Semitism. All these data are the precursor of the Biblical Prophecies
prior to the coming of Christ. The Christian of today must pray much more
than it did to remain in the Way of Faith, only this way his works will be
guided by the Holy Spirit.
OVERCOME THE WORLD
Despite all, the Christian hope before
persecution is founded in the faith, in this sentence of Jesus Christ:
...These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the
world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the
world. John 16:33.
In Jesus we have our peace because He
has overcome the world, this is, sin and death don't dominate over us who
believe, but in resurrection will live eternally in
Peter, from his behalf also tells us
about the suffering of the Christian, which is part, he tells, of the
suffering of Christ, so that in the revelation of His glory we may rejoice
with great joy. He also tells us to glorify God if we suffer for His sake.
The judgment begins in the house of God. You may read it complete in 1Peter
The Lord does never leave us,
especially in the midst of tribulation. He has left it in His Word, as well
as being an experience lived by all Christians as we read in Matthew
28:20...I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
The conclusion is also the closing, for
the worlds of the apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy, chapters 3
and 4, are a loyal reflexion of the Christian life under persecution, but
more than that, the prophecy for the last days. The Lord Jesus Christ be
with you spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
But know this, that in the last days
perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of
money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful,
unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal,
despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather
than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And
from such people turn away!...
...Yes, and all who desire to live
godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors
will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must
continue in the things which you have learned...you have known the Holy
Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith
which is in Christ Jesus...
...Preach the Word...for the time will
come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own
desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for them selves
teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned
aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things endure afflictions, do
the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry. ...Finally, there is laid
up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge,
will give me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved
His appearing. Amen.