Suffering for the Faith

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12
This one is tough, isn’t it.  It goes against what we want.  We’d love to be loved and admired by all.  It also goes against that sentiment that if we just have faith and serve God faithfully, everything will go well in our lives.
It’s one of the harder lessons of being a follower of Christ.  Often, those who speak up for Jesus are not treated well, they are mocked, hated, and persecuted.  Many prophets of God were rejected or killed.  According to church tradition (and Scripture in the case of James and John), of the 11 disciples, 10 were martyred and 1 exiled.  Suffering for the faith isn’t unusual, it’s more like the norm.  And when we suffer for Jesus, we are in good company.
But we don’t want to suffer.  So, we try to avoid it.  What does that look like?  I think we’d all like to think that avoiding the suffering is what happens when people deny Jesus and we would never do that.  If armed men came into our building, we stand for Jesus.  Maybe.  But often times that isn’t what this avoiding suffering looks like.  It isn’t denying Jesus outright, it’s simply being silent.
It can be all too easy to simply not be overtly Christian, to not talk about Jesus, to just be invisibly Christian.  However, we are called to be witnesses, to make disciples of all nations.  This means living overtly for Jesus and telling others about Him.  Thankfully, even when we fail at this, there is forgiveness.  Peter outright denied knowing Jesus 3 times, but Jesus forgave him and entrusted him with a great ministry.  Peter was forgiven, but afterwards, he didn’t stay silent.
Heavenly Father,
Please forgive us for when we have denied You or simply been silent.  Give us the courage to speak boldly for You, even enduring suffering for Your name, knowing that You promise to be with us and the suffering is only temporary.  Thank You for suffering for us.
In Christ,
Pastor Kurt
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