PERSECUTION . . . When it comes relentlessly, but with ample warning

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Reference: Matthew 10:16-20 )

No beloved, this is not some sort of deja vu. The “Sip of Scripture” for yesterday and today are the same verse, as it was five years ago. Reading the Anabaptist Bible has a different passage for March 9th, from John 15: 17-20. “I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me,they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.”

Back on March 7th (when I was expressing weariness about the long series of verses on persecution) I said that Jesus warned his disciples that if he was persecuted they would be also for simply following Jesus. I was not thinking about any specific verse, but making a general statement. But we have verses today from Reading the Anabaptist Bible that speaks to this specific theme; the only thing more coincidental would be if “Sip of Scripture” had noted these verses from John 15 as the verses for today.

I had also yesterday (when commenting on the verses from Mathew chapter 10) quietly alluded to the fact that I feel (maybe not all the time but many times) that the Spirit is prompting me in what to say. So, am I “reading” too much into the fact that two days ago I touched onto the theme of the verse that Reading the Anabaptist Bible has for today? And with the repetition yesterday’s verse I again have cause to wonder if something beyond coincidence is providing a “Ghost Writer” for me?

What then of persecution, if God seems to be supplying a back drop against which so many Christian lives are being lived out? What should one do if persecution is indeed a part of God’s plan? For if one had a “suspicious” mind, one could almost think that Christ’s warnings in Matthew and John were a foreshadowing of persecution that WILL come instead of persecution that MIGHT come. And not just of Jesus’ generation, but generations hundred’s of years in the future. Thanks be to God that I am not the only harbinger of such things. Jacques Mesdagh, who was burned at the stake in November of 1567 said, “For if the holy men and prophets, and the apostles, had to suffer, yea, Christ Himself, who is one Head and master, how much more ought we, who are poor, sinful and frail men to suffer, if we want to be found little members of His body; for the members are surely not better than the head, nor the servant greater than his lord, says Christ Himself.” In fact many of the historic Anabaptist believers testified that they expected suffering and persecution to be their lot. I have tried to believe that should no longer be part of the Christian experience. But as we read on and on about persecution my hope that Christians everywhere will not have to suffer dims.

Yes, I had said in a previous post that there are signs in the media that some Christians may be severely critiqued for strong and immovable attitudes that have been labeled as hostile and not accepting of all people. But that I would think is far removed from what these scriptures prophesy. At least that is my hope for today. And today is the first Sunday of Lent; perhaps a good day to struggle with the concept of persecution. It is also the first day of daylight savings time. I will leave how all of this might connect to your pondering. What tomorrow may bring I do not know.

May you beloved know assurance when you speak of your faith and God, and may you be resilient in the face of persecution, knowing that Christ our Lord has gone ahead. Selah!