By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/12/20
The Bible tells us about numerous people of faith who experienced persecution because they stood for God’s Truth. “Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated” (Hebrews 11:36-37).
It would have been easy for these people to conform to the world’s pressures in order to escape persecution, but they remained obedient to God. Their obedience was costly, but they found strength in their faith and in God’s promises. We can find inspiration in their examples when we are confronted with the choice between obedience to God and conformity to the world.
We may not face the same extreme obstacles that the people of the Bible experienced or the violent persecution that people in many countries are enduring today. But we do feel deep rejection when a friend stops inviting us to social events because our godly behavior and demeanor set us apart. We do feel the pressure of a suffering career when we refuse to follow unethical business practices. We do feel harassed and humiliated when a co-worker makes us the subject of jokes and snide comments. We do feel tension when a neighbor criticizes Christianity or uses God’s name as a profanity—but we must not let these challenges keep us from standing firm in Christ. In these moments, we can look to the Holy Spirit, who will show us how to respond.
Prayer: Father, I am grateful that I am not faced with the extreme violent persecution that so many believers in other countries are dealing with today. Yet I do struggle with feelings of rejection and pressure from unbelievers in my life. Help me in those moments to remember all of those who have gone before me and have stood strong in the face of persecution. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).