Sermon: Persecuted for Christ
Scripture: Matthew 5:10-12
In this week’s lessons, we learn that persecution is to be expected when we live a distinctively Christian life after the pattern of our Lord.
Theme: Persecution Inevitable
The Bible says, in many different passages, that true disciples of Jesus Christ will be persecuted. It is inevitable, a natural consequence of exhibiting true Christian character. And yet, any honest assessment of the Christian church in America must point out that although the country itself is far from Christian and ungodly, nevertheless there is very little persecution of Christians today. What is wrong? There is undoubtedly racial persecution. There is persecution in politics and sometimes, I suppose, in business. But there is very little persecution for most Christians, at least openly. Is it possible that the Bible is wrong? Or are Christians today simply not showing forth the type of righteous character that Jesus said results in persecution?
Not long ago on The Bible Study Hour, I asked Dr. Harold Voelkel, a missionary for many years in Korea, about persecution in this country as contrasted with the terrible persecution of Christians that he had observed overseas. He answered, “Well, I see no persecution here at all.” From his point of view at least, this was the case. For most Christians there is little, if any, persecution. This is true in spite of the clear implication of the Beatitudes that persecution will come to one who lives as Christ has indicated. Jesus said, “Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:10-12).
Perhaps you will say that those verses do not actually teach that persecution is inevitable. I agree that they do not teach that every day, as the result of everything you do, you as a Christian will be reviled and suffer for righteousness’ sake. On the other hand, the verses do conclude the list of statements that delineate the Christian’s character, and the natural implication is that the one who lives like this will be persecuted. It is an amazing and provocative statement. And yet, it is as much a description of the Christian as the words: poor in spirit, they that mourn, the meek, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.
Why should we expect persecution to come for our Christian character?
What are some reasons why Christians are not persecuted in the West as they are in other countries around the world?
Prayer: Be diligent in praying daily for persecuted Christians throughout the world.