I think it is extremely important for everyone, not just Christians, to understand this, and to do something about it. Even if all we can do is take time each day to remember those who are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ, and to pray for their spiritual strength, a bold witness to their persecutors and for God to comfort and protect them.
In the west we do not (yet) suffer as out brothers and sisters do in other areas of the world, and I do not want to diminish or belittle their suffering in any way. However, I do see the United States, the country I love, moving in that same direction. Christians and Christianity are repeatedly singled out and targeted for persecution and oppression in America.
There are many in America who refuse to believe this unpleasant fact, and, in fact, they go out of their way to denounce it as nothing more than Christian fantasy. Some will even go so far as to taunt Christians who complain about being targeted by saying, “Oh come on now, if you're a Christian you're supposed to like a little persecution!”
Although Scripture clearly says that, as Christians we should expect persecution and consider it joy, I am not sure the intent was to “like” being persecuted. In fact, the Scripture teaches that we consider it joy because we profit from trials and persecutions as they serve to strengthen our relationship with God. That the world hates us is a given, and in fact is foretold in the Scripture, but our suffering is both for God's glory and for the glory that we will enter into in heaven.
However, in a country that prides itself on it religious liberty and ensconces said freedom in the Constitution, it is surprising that such persecution occurs. As I pointed out above, I see America moving in the same direction as other countries with no tolerance for God, for Jesus, for Christians, or for true Biblical Chrstianity, and it is because of this that I have started documenting incidents of Christian persecution and oppression – technically “hate crimes” against Christians – in America, and there are two reasons for this. The first is to serve as a warning to those who believe in the “Christianity” that is quickly becoming the “Christianity” of choice for America. One which is all inclusive and politically correct to the point where it embraces, indulges, promotes and encourages all manner of sin. To those people I say, the writing is now being written on the wall. To embrace that form of false “Christianity” is to deny Jesus Christ and to ensure your eternal punishment in hell. To those people I implore you to turn from your sin, seek forgiveness in Jesus Christ, and serve the one true God. The second reason is to serve as a warning to my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, who will soon see that America is quickly becoming antagonistic toward Jesus and toward us. We should be praying for and supporting and encouraging each other, as we prepare for the coming persecution.
James 1:2-12 (NKJV)
(2) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (4) But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (5) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (6) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (7) For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; (8) he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (9) Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, (10) but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. (11) For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. (12) Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
John 15:18-21 (NKJV)
(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 its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (20) Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. (21) But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
1 Peter 4:12-16 (NKJV)
(12) Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; (13) but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (14) If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. (15) But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. (16) Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
1 John 3:13 (NKJV)
(13) Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.
Romans 8:16-18 (NKJV)
(16) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (17) and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (18) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)
(4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
(28) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
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New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.