Bible Reading: Luke 21:1-19
Jesus warns us that as His followers we will face persecution. However, we don’t need to be afraid. Instead, we should see it as an opportunity to be a witness for Him.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
The last couple of weekends have been wonderful at our church. On the Saturday of Easter weekend we had several thousand people come for our Annual Easter Egg Drop. The next day, on Easter Sunday, the church was packed-out for the worship service. Then, the next weekend, people literally crowded into the auditorium on both Friday and Saturday nights for a concert. And on Sunday we had an awesome service. It is great to be a Christian. We are so blessed. At least…that’s the way that we experience it here in America…right now.
But, it’s not that way in many places around the world. I recently read a report about the worst 11 countries in the world where Christians face persecution. This list begins with the worst:
- North Korea…Christians and Christian missionaries are routinely put into prison labor camps.
- Afghanistan…The government of this Muslim country refuses to recognize any of its citizens as being Christians.
- Somalia…Someone has said that it is “not possible” to be a Christian in Somalia.
- Sudan…The Muslim government has decided to destroy all Christian church buildings.
- Pakistan…Christians are accused of blasphemy for worshipping Jesus (and not their Muslim god) and will be executed.
- Eritrea…Only four religions are officially recognized by the government. Anyone belonging to other faiths are persecuted…even those of recognized Christian faiths are persecuted by the government.
- Libya…It has been reported that the government is training radical Muslim militants to attack Christians.
- Iraq…Christians have not been allowed to return to their homes after being kicked out by the Muslim organization, ISIS.
- Yemen…Christians are singled out for severe persecution.
- Iran… Christians face severe persecution by Muslims.
- India…increased persecution of Christians by Hindus.
Every day…every single day around the world Christians are being persecuted. That means that they are mistreated for one simple reason…they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Another article that I read identified 50 countries around the world where Christians are being persecuted and said that in them…
- 215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution.
- This represents 1 in 12 Christians worldwide.
- 255 Christians are killed
- 104 are abducted
- 180 Christian women are sexually attacked by men
- 66 churches are attacked
- 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.
Did I tell you how great our worship service was…last Sunday? It wasn’t like that for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, was it?
Jesus warned the disciples that they would be persecuted because they were His followers. He told them that it would come. Sometimes it would be the government. Sometimes it would be religious organizations. Sometimes it would be people in the community. Sometimes it would even be friends and family. But it would come. He guaranteed them that it would come. And it has. Over the centuries many, many people have suffered and died because of their faith in Jesus.
But I want you to pay careful attention to two things that Jesus said about persecution. First, He said, “they will put some of you to death”. They were going to die. And yet, He went on to say, “Yet not a hair of your head will perish.” Which is it? Are they going to die…or not? When Jesus said that they would be put to “death”, He used a common word for “death”. And, it simply means that they would die…their physical life would end. But, then He said that even though they would be put to “death”…they would not “perish”. The word “perish” means “to be destroyed”. What did He mean? He said that even though they would die…that’s not the end…it’s not over…they have not been destroyed. Why? Because they will continue to be alive in Heaven. You see…death on earth is not the end of life…it’s just a transition to life in Heaven. So, we don’t need to be afraid of death. Jesus proved that when He destroyed death when He rose from the grave. Death could not destroy Him…He destroyed death! And He promises that because we believe in Him…He will save us from death, as well.
Then notice a second thing that He said about persecution. He said, “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.” What is our testimony? It’s Jesus’ story…about how He rose from the dead. And, it’s your story…about how He saved you and gave you eternal life. Jesus said that when we are persecuted…He will give us just the right words and wisdom to know what to say…how to share our testimony. We don’t need to worry about it. He will speak to our hearts and tell us what to say.
And you know what…Christians around the world are doing just that. Every day, those Christians who are being persecuted…are telling the story of Jesus. Every day, those Christians are being a witness for Jesus.
But we don’t have to wait until we are persecuted to share our testimony. We can begin right now. We have wonderful freedom in our country to tell people about Jesus. Every day you meet people who need to have Jesus as their Savior…and there is a good chance that God intends for you to be the one to tell them how to accept Him. What do you tell them? Tell them what Jesus did…Who He is, how He lived, why He died, and that He rose from the grave. Then, tell them how He saved you and what it means in your life. God will use your testimony to bring someone to Him and to have the promise of eternal life. It really is that simple. It really is that wonderful. It really is that important. Now…go…tell someone about Jesus.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,