For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. – Philippians 1:29-30
Meditation: Persecution was promised by Christ. In fact He stated that one who is persecuted for faith in Christ is blessed (Matthew 5:10-11). Certainly most of the Apostles were persecuted and even martyred for following Christ. Suffering in His service demonstrates grrat faith, and it has been said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
When others see Christians willing to suffer for their faith, others see the value of the Gospel, the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and the peace enjoyed by the persecuted. Starting with the record of the stoning of Stephen in Acts 6:8-7:60, numerous accounts have survived describing the amazing power of Christ upon those that suffer for His name’s sake.
Though often short of martyrdom, the saints suffer persecution around the globe today in many ways. It is important to note that where the church suffers, there is greater zeal and desire for the Word just as in Biblical times. I fear many modern Christians do understand this relationship. All growth in the world comes through some form of suffering. Something must be sacrificed to enjoy growth.
Jesus gave His life as the Cornerstone of the church as the seed that would grow the vine from which our branches proceed, and He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). What further example do we need?
Call to Action: Examine your life. Have you suffered for Christ? If so, praise Him for being counted worthy of the honor of representing Him. If not, then ask yourself if it is because you have lacked opportunity or if you have lacked courage. Pray for opportunities and the bravery to face any challenge with grace and the Spirit of Christ to encourage and comfort you. His grace is sufficient!