The days we live in are testing the depth of our faith. There seems to be a rise in persecution against Christians everywhere, though it is experienced in differing forms. Anti-Christian governments are taking a hard line in places to the point of closing churches, putting pastors and Christian leaders in prison and placing more restrictions on meeting and witnessing. More radical groups are burning churches and killing believers. False accusations are very common.
Our natural tendency is to avoid such things and default to a preservation mode. While each of us are tested in this subject in different ways, there is a principle I do not want us to forget; love and prayer. I have been deeply challenged lately with how shallow my prayer life is. Jesus taught His disciples principles that will help us in our day with these trials, and He began with prayer.
We must love our neighbor, but also “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). “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). In the midst of unjust treatment, these instructions tend to escape from our memory. We find reasons not to follow Jesus’ teachings because it is hard when we are face to face with an enemy or persecutor. Yet, their witness is powerful!
How do we find strength and internal motivation to love, do good, bless and pray for them? Jesus said; “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). “Take heart, I have overcome the world” (16:33). Imitate His example. He came to love (3:16). If you are struggling to pray for someone who has treated you unfairly, stop and read Luke 23:34; “Father, forgive them.”
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