“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12
Here, Jesus promises us that people will insult, persecute, and lie about us when we believe in Him. Verse 11 doesn’t say “if” people insult: it says “when.” It’s going to happen. Jesus knows human nature. He understands that the unbelieving world, which follows the devil, will say and do anything to oppose Jesus. When we align our belief with His, Jesus promises that devil-led world will go to war against us.
In fact, suffering for the faith is one constant through both the Old and New Testaments. From Abel (who was murdered for his act of worship), to all the heroes listed in Hebrews 11 (who performed miraculous acts simply by believing), to John the Apostle of the Gospel and Revelation (who had been boiled in scalding oil, then exiled on a remote island), to Jesus Himself, who lived the perfect life but was tortured to death, suffering is a hallmark of following the Lord. If you haven’t suffered yet, just wait. It’ll happen.
It’s not because God is cruel, because He isn’t. Indeed, when we suffer, He’s within and through us, suffering as well. No, we suffer because sin has so poisoned the hearts of most people here on the Third Rock that they literally don’t give a damn if someone else suffers for this mystery faith called “Christianity.” You know what Jesus would say about them: pray for them, because they’ve received their eternal reward already. May God have mercy that we can’t comprehend on unbelievers.
Praying for those who insult, lie, and torture us is an important act because that kind of selfless praying leads to pity, understanding, mercy, and forgiveness. Praying for our enemies, for our persecutors, is what Jesus would do; it’s what He did even while He was in agony they caused. Those who are persecuted will receive God’s blessings in the kingdom of heaven. We should pray for those who live to hurt us that they, too, might turn from their sins to receive God’s favor as well.
We in America haven’t yet experienced the kind of torture that happens in communist prisons, or in Islamic centers, or death camps. We haven’t yet had to pay with our lives for simply sharing Jesus with each other. But it’s coming. With the end of time, it’s coming because Jesus promised it. When it happens – when, not if – let’s rejoice because our forever time with Him is near.
For more reading: Psalm 9:2, Isaiah 51:7, John 15:21, Acts 5:40-41, 2 Corinthians 6:10, 2 Corinthians 12:10, Colossians 1:24, 1 Thessalonians 2:15, Hebrews 11:32-38, James 1:2, 1 Peter 1:6, 1 Peter 4: 13 & 16, Matthew 5:13
Lord Jesus, I will rejoice when I’m persecuted for believing in You.