When you stand out

A lot of people in North American don’t realize it, but according to Open Doors Canada, 260 million Christians around the world experience high levels of persecution because of their faith in Christ.

Globally, that’s about 1 in every 8 Christians.

“Every day, an average of eight Christians are killed for their faith and 23 Christians are raped or sexually harassed for faith-related reasons. Every week, an average of 182 churches or Christian buildings are attacked, and 276 Christian homes burned or destroyed. Every month, an average of 309 Christians are unjustly imprisoned for their faith.”*

Wow.

Paul tells Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Everyone. In Matthew 5:10 Jesus offers blessing to “those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He also says to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Perhaps it’s obvious, but following Christ costs something. People outside of North America—and increasingly inside of North America too—are experiencing this difficulty first hand.

Here’s where I’m going with this.

First, I wonder if you might add the plight of persecuted Christians to your prayer list. One of the main things persecuted Christians ask for is that those of us in western countries simply pray for them as brothers and sisters.

Second, the next time you’re in a situation when your faith makes you stand out, stand firm. Remember who and whose you are. Here in North America, it’s just too easy to think that comfort and convenience are the King and Queen of joy. But they’re not. Life carrying a cross costs something. Sometimes it’s comfort, or convenience, or popularity, or status, or reputation, or friends, or money, or your job, or…

But remember this. God is real. His word is true. His love extends to all. We are Christ’s ambassadors. For the healing of the world.

When your faith makes you stand out, stand firm.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

By Matthew Ruttan

–“I know prayer is important, but it’s a constant battle. Can you give some tips?” This was a question I answered recently at Westminster’s monthly Q & A Forum. Here’s a link to my video response.
–“Up!” is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on March 9.
–*As reported in: Open Doors Magazine (March/April 2020), p. 8.

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