For a few days this week I’m sharing some thoughts about Matthew 24. It’s where Jesus answers a question about when the Jerusalem temple would be torn down, and also when he would return at the “end of the age” (v. 3).
In response, he offers various insights about what to expect, including this: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (v. 9).
In one respect, he’s talking about his first disciples. But in another, he’s talking about all disciples who come, including us.
Persecution isn’t something that many of us in North America are used to—at least not in any overt sense. Sure, there are increasing legal challenges to our faith, and perhaps we start to lose job opportunities and friendships here and there. But it’s not something we’re used to—and certainly not something we’re often prepared for.
But consider this. According to Open Doors, over 245 million Christians are living in places where they experience high levels of persecution. They report that last year 4,305 Christians were killed for their faith, 1,847 churches and other Christian buildings were attacked, 3,150 disciples were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.
Speaking about all the various trials we can expect, Jesus says, “I have told you ahead of time” (v. 25). So don’t be surprised by it!
Today, I simply want to highlight one of the reasons for this persecution. It’s “because of me.” In other words, Jesus isn’t talking about you being persecuted because you’re rude or insensitive. That’s different. The persecution he’s talking about here is because we are disciples who speak truthfully and act lovingly in his name.
No. Matter. What.
-When someone insults you, speak truthfully and act lovingly.
-When someone makes fun of you, speak truthfully and act lovingly.
-When someone mistreats you, speak truthfully and act lovingly.
Our persecution should be for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
The Lord stands next to you, tall and true. They days are coming—and are now here—when we stand next to him, tall and true too.
By Matthew Ruttan
–Today’s “Up!” is connected to my latest podcast—Part 3 in the Armageddon series: “Are there ‘signs’ that the end is coming?” Click here to listen. Enjoy!
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.