When They See Us

Our Response in the Face of Persecution.

The Life of A Believer On Earth

This article is addressed the believers who hold on tightly to their identity as Christians as it is to those who might be having a crisis of faith. It is dedicated to those who have fought and won the good fight of faith, now awaiting the resurrection, and to all those who suffer for Christ’s sake as he did for ours.

It seems really difficult these days to be a Christian. As much as we might hold dearly to our faith, it would seem that the work is not really in embracing our “believer” title, it’s in striving to remain a believing believer. If you are living your life right, and not hiding your identity as a child of God and disciple of Jesus Christ like it’s something to be ashamed of, then you’ve probably realized that being a “Jesus freak” is not the most attractive thing in the world you live in. This world we all live in. If this is you or you have deemed it so by observing others, then you have come to the right place. We all have different stories but are on the same journey.

However, before we go too far, one thing that is highly imperative in our walk of faith is the knowledge that persecution is and will always be a part of our lives. This is usually left out in many teachings in Sunday Schools and church services but it’s in no way left out of the bible. All the books of the bible are littered with stories of men and women of great faith who knew that their citizenship was not of this world and that they’ll never be accepted by it – please read Heb. 11:32-38.

No matter how long you have followed Christ or how old you are, this world will show its opposition against your faith one way or another. Albeit, many Christians do not realize that it’ll take being dead, literally, to escape or do completely without persecution. For as long as we are in this plain of existence, there is a spirit at work in those that do not belong to God, that’ll constantly put them at enmity against us who are identified by our faith in Christ. It’s not a curse nor a death wish but it is rather expected.

Jesus gave his life for our redemption and in response, we receive his love by yielding our lives in sacrifice unto him. It means every day, the believer must embrace death. Death to the world, death in the mortification of fleshly deeds, death to self and actual death, if it comes to that.

Persecution is not only expressed in beheading a person for their faith, it can also manifest in little things like: a godly student being disliked among colleagues for refusing to cheat, being mocked for taking a stand for Christ in a society where God is ridiculed, being hindered by some societal/political policy from preaching the gospel at will, being tagged as a “Jesus freak” for not giving in to peer pressure etc. If it seems you are not wanted or favored in a certain place because of your faith in and obedience to Christ, you don’t need a knife at your neck to know that you’re being persecuted – same game but different players.

Jesus speaking to his disciples said in John 15:

“[16] Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
[18] If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.
[19] If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

As much as the goal here is not to create unnecessary rivalry, I can’t say this enough, we are not of the world and the world clearly knows that, even if you don’t go around with a tag on your forehead that says “Christian”. We do not speak the same moral language, we do not share their views (or at least should not), and we are deeply anchored by Love and Grace, both of which are foreign concepts to people who are not born again. The foundation for this disparity lay in the fact that while the Holy Spirit is a seal upon us, an ungodly spirit rules over the hearts of those who reject Christ, that is, those who are not partakers of the new nature in Christ. Don’t be surprised when you are disliked for standing by your faith in any way.

When you accept the life that Christ gives, you will hardly be able to separate it from any area of your life, including the areas people can’t seem to reconcile with God.

I must establish, however, that when I use the term “world”, I do not refer to planet earth. Although, the earth itself is cursed due to the fall of man; the world in this context is the people in it who are still slaves to the nature of sin. The world is not a planet, it’s a network, a social system, views and ideologies, made up of people who are ruled by the darkness of a heart without Christ and slaves to the devil’s whims.

Jesus tells his disciples that he has chosen us and sanctified us, he’s separated us from the world and anointed us to bring forth godly fruits… in an ungodly world, in a world that hates God and rebels against his own order of things. Surely Jesus knew very well that this will be challenging. It’s like taking a Lion from among lions and domesticating it completely to the point that it is just as human as humans can be, then placing it back among those lions from among which it was taking and expecting it to not only bear human-like cubs but also maintain a human nature among its carnivorous equals.

How hard that is going to be! Not because the animal is not well tamed but because a new nature has been embedded into it. It’s been reprogrammed and will never fit in. More so, it will be hated for not fitting in. This is what our lives here on earth is and will always be, but with a much bigger purpose and an unbelievably large amount of grace to go with it. We cannot afford to be short sighted even in the face of the world’s hate.

We can’t afford to preach a people-friendly or politically right gospel just because it will attract less attacks. This place is not our home, God has not placed you here so that you will fit in or not be hated or discriminated against because of your faith. There is a much bigger purpose to fulfil here than the occasional protests for religious tolerance. There’ll never be such a thing. We might hope to live in peace with them, and even more, preach to them. Albeit, in their current state we’ll never be one. Our faith is no religion, it is a nature. A nature the world does not understand, and we all know that whatever the world can’t change, it hates. It is God himself in the hearts of men, the greatest miracle ever. The world is yet to fully realize what hit it the day Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary, and you have been put here to bear fruits according to God’s plan. The goal; is that God’s will be established through us. Like Leonard Ravenhill once said:

“The greatest miracle God can do is to take an unholy person out of an unholy world, make them holy, put them back into the unholy world and keep them holy” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

So do not ever be afraid, or sad or surprised if the world around you is always against you, or that our faith is the only one where the believers are constantly attacked, and many times murdered, for their belief. We are the real deal, but the world and those that are of it cannot possibly understand that.

They hated Jesus, the anchor, author and finisher of our faith, who are we that we shall not be hated? He was scorned by the ones he came to save, who are we that we will not be mocked or slandered or even killed by the ones to whom we bring God’s love in the gospel?

What does the world see when they see us? We are light in the midst of darkness, they see representatives and reminders of the God they want nothing to do with. What does the world see when they see us? They see a stumbling block like they saw in Jesus.

Why does it seem God doesn’t rescue his persecuted saints while they are being persecuted? I tell you, he does rescue some and some others, he forewarns. In all, God has no hand in the persecution of his saints but he had forewarned us in John 16:33. In this world, tribulation will be part of our lives but we will have peace because He has overcome the world. This is not something we like to tell ourselves, but Jesus was hated and so we too will be. If it comes down to laying down our lives, we will gladly partake of Christ’s sufferings. We will do so with the assurance that, persecuted to death or not, we will also partake in his glory. Halleluyah!

Our Response to this Persecution:

1) Love. Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
I will always wonder what Stephen saw or knew that made him pray for his own persecutors right before they took the last breath out of him with those stones. My prayer is that God teaches us to love as he has filled us with capacity to. We love each other and we love those who hate us.

2) Remember and Rejoice. Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Now I kinda see why our heroes of faith, the apostles an many disciples, died willingly and joyfully, some singing hymns as they were torn asunder by wild beasts. You can’t do that without an in-depth revelation, especially at the moment, of the glory you are being translated into.

I once heard the story of a soldier who himself jumped into the ring to be killed alongside God’s people when his eyes were opened, and he saw crowns of glory being placed on their heads as they passed from this life, standing in faith. He wanted that sort of ending and identified with God even though it meant dying. I can’t attest to how true the story is but I think such a revelation is worth dying for. It’s worth giving everything up for.

3) Pray. Romans 15:30-31, “[30] Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
[31] That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;”

I am a strong believer in the diverse miracles that prayers can make way for. And so was Paul. What’s more? The Holy Spirit even makes intercession for us and independent on us. He teaches us to pray and he helps us even when we don’t know how we ought to pray.

Please, learn to pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world, pray for the church, that we all stand strong in faith till the coming of our Lord. Pray for those who are persecuted, the missionaries who risk their lives to take the gospel to places we don’t even know exist. You can pray for the deliverance of God’s people (including you) from the hands of evil people whose hearts are set against God. Pray for those who persecute you, that one way or another, they too will be saved. The apostle Paul was a testimony of God’s desire and ability to save anyone. Pray everyday. Pray always.

Our understanding will be perfected when we get to eternal side of our lives and our souls are made perfect but right now, all we have is faith. And that’s how we’d live.

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