Encouragement for Those Dealing with Persecution

These are the keys that will help us believers to be strong and fearless as we face those who oppose us for being followers of Christ.

First remember that Jesus Christ, the same Son of God who walked in Judea and Galilee lives within us and that we are never alone. He is always present as the Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test your own selves, whether you are in the faith. Test your own selves. Or don’t you know as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”. But not only is the person of Christ present but also his anointing is present. Do you know about the anointing of God? The Hebrew term ‘Messiah’ means the Anointed One and so the Greek term ‘Christ’. So when we speak of Jesus as the Christ, we are saying that he is the Anointed One of God. And as Christians, we are followers of the Anointed One. It was the anointing of the Holy Spirit on Jesus that produced the power that he displayed and used to transformed the lives of those he encountered as Peter explained in Acts 10, “..even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him,” Acts 10:38.

The anointing is the very presence and power of God through the Holy Spirit for lifting burdens and breaking yokes of bondage as the prophet Isaiah explains: “It shall happen in that day, that his burden shall depart from off your shoulder, and his yoke from off your neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed by reason of the anointing,” Isaiah 10:27. And we share in Christ’s anointing:

Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; who also sealed us, and gave us the down payment of the Spirit in our hearts. 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22

We have access to this same anointing so that we can also see burdens lifted and yokes broken in our lives and in the lives of others. We administer this anointing through our prayers, through our worship, through our faith filled words and through our actions inspired by the Holy Spirit.

And those of us who have received Christ and his gift of eternal life can walk in this anointing as we practice meditating in God’s word, living by faith and walking in love. For it is by continually meditating on God’s word each day that are minds are constantly renewed; it builds our faith and confidence in God. Thus we learn to stop worrying about our circumstances and to not go by what we see but to depend on the promises of God. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” We live according to the word of God and we learn to listen to God’s voice. For he has all the answers to all the problems and challenges we face.

Besides meditation on the word of God, we are to live by faith as Paul explained to the believers in Roman 1:17, “the just shall live by faith.” Faith is the life style of the believer. We are to learn to practice faith in every area of life, from the smallest need to the greatest challenge. We are to accomplish all of these through faith, confidence and obedience to God. And we must learn to walk in love. That we learn to think well, speak well and do good to others even when they do not deserve it. Living in this manner will differentiate us believers from the way the rest of the world acts. And walking in love will cause us to be unaffected by the attempts of others to inhibit us through fear and intimidation. For as the Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.” So as we meditate on the love of God and what it means to love others from what we read in the Epistle of 1 John and from 1 Corinthians 13 fear will loose it hold on us. And Jesus has already defeated fear as the writer of Hebrews teaches us: “Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage,” Hebrews 2:14, 15.

How can we love others and how can walk free of fear? First, we will have to stop focusing on ourselves. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, 24, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same will save it.” We need to learn to recon ourselves dead to our own wishes and desires and dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ has his purposes and his ways of doing things. So we are dead to our carnal nature, the flesh (1 Corinthians 3:1-3) and the works of the flesh that Paul wrote about in Galatians 5. And we stop trying to solve our difficulties and challenges with our own plans and resources. Listen to what Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 17:5-9

Thus says The LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from The LORD. For he shall be like the heath [a bush] in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in The LORD, and whose trust The LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, who spreads out its roots by the river, and shall not fear when heat comes, but its leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

It is not by our own resourcefulness that we can overcome obstacles or receive answers to prayer but by making God our source. We resist the tendency to worry or make our own plans but roll every care on to the Lord as Peter tell us, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your worries on him, because he cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:6, 7. We enter his rest (Matthew 11:28-30, Hebrews 3:12-4:11, Psalms 46:10). And we receive his peace:

  • Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful. John 14:27
  • I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6, 7
  • And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15

You have the ability to experience Christ’s supernatural peace. You do not have to wait around for a feeling to experience it. Take if by faith.

So we can be governed by God’s peace and we stop looking at circumstances from a natural or human point of view. But if we continue to meditate and live according to God’s word we can start looking at our circumstances from heaven’s point of view. As Paul encourages us in Colossians 3:1-3, “If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Instead of coming with our own solutions and ideas we start taking time to listen for God’s voice and for his instructions. He got all the wisdom and the answers we need to deal with those who oppose us. Thus, we stop focusing on ourselves and focus on Christ within us and what he is telling us. For if we learn to take time to listen we will discover that Christ is not only present, but he is ready to instruct us if we will listen and obey.

Oh, now we are getting to the good part! Now we are learning to live in fellowship with Christ. He said in Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.” And he spoke to his disciples in John 15 saying:

I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you. “In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; and so you will be my disciples. John 15:5-8

We can have living and abiding relationship with the Lord Jesus. We not just giving mental assent to the teaching about Christ. But to us he is a real person and we are conversing with him each day. We can depend on him and base our lives on what he tells us. Like the Apostle we discover that for us to live is Christ; we seek to manifest the life, power and love of Christ. We follow his instructions to help and to be a blessing to others. And this produces fruit, Fruit that brings glory to Christ; it makes him look good! And as a result others are drawn to him.

Fruit bearing, that is our assignment for which we are anointed that will bring the nations to the knowledge of Christ and fulfill Jesus’ great commission. It will make those who persecute us reconsider their actions and attitudes. And as the Christians around the world are obedient to this assignment we will hasten the day of Christ’s return and the setting up of his kingdom on the earth.

Remember that God is our source and he will take care of us when all the other sources run dry. We can discover how to receive from our source from God’s word. It like the young man who went off to the university. Before he left his parents gave him a Bible and told him to read it every day. Months later he telephone them to request money. His parents simple responded that he needed to read his Bible. But he did not do that and called a week later with the same request. He did not realize that his parents had put money in different pages of his Bible and if he just would read his Bible he would find the provision he was seeking. And the same is true for us: the answers to the source for our healing, our joy, our protection and our provision are all in his word.

These truths are the keys, which if we will apply, will help us live victoriously even in times of persecution.