Why Am I Not Being Persecuted?

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March 10, 2022

1 Peter 2:21 NIV

21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

CONSIDER THIS

21 To this you were called,

To what were we called? Back up a verse and there it is.

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. v.20

We are called to suffer for doing good. 

There it is. I have never said it so plainly to myself or anyone else. 

We are called to suffer for doing good. 

There is a technical term for this: persecution. 

In the early centuries of the church, this was the primary hallmark of being a Christian—suffering for doing good. From the earliest days of the church, persecution was the rule, not the exception. In fact, in Jesus’ most core teaching (aka the Sermon on the Mount) he put it this way:

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

Again in John’s Gospel, Jesus says this:

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.

This is the primary purpose for Peter’s letter. He is not writing to tell the church to bow to the government. No, he’s writing to encourage, teach, and train them on how to suffer for doing good. That is the point of the whole letter. Here are Peter’s pro tips for those under persecution: 

  1. Do not retaliate.
  2. Do not threaten anyone.
  3. Entrust yourself to him who judges justly.

Suffering for doing good, according to the Bible, seems to be Christianity 101. So here’s my honest question: Why am I not suffering for doing good? Maybe I have and am, so let me refine the question. Why am I not being persecuted? I am not aware of ever being persecuted for righteousness sake in my whole life. Why is that? I don’t experience being hated by the world. I don’t recall anyone hurling insults at me because of my relationship to Jesus. Sure, I have suffered from what I would call spiritual warfare and demonic attacks and just bad things happening in my life, but I don’t think that fairly qualifies as being persecuted for righteousness sake, or suffering for doing good as Peter talks about. 

Don’t hear me wrong. I don’t want to be persecuted. I am not asking for it. I suppose I am thankful I have not experienced it. I guess it makes me wonder why. I mean, if following Jesus means being persecuted and I am not being persecuted, . . . well . . . you think they are scared of me? ;0) 

21 To this you were called,

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Thank you for the grace to honestly confront this issue of the lack of persecution in my life and ask these hard questions. I am not asking to be persecuted, Lord, but I do ask you to prepare me for such. Holy Spirit, should, or maybe I should say, when persecution comes to me, give me the grace to not retaliate or threaten but to entrust myself to him to judges justly. And prepare me for the blessedness of such a thing. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Have you ever been persecuted for righteousness sake or for following Jesus or otherwise suffered for doing good? What’s the story? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

4 COMMENTS

  1. When I think about persecution, nothing personal pops into my mind. The “blessedness” of being persecuted for right behavior or being falsely insulted for Jesus’ sake, for the most part, seems to have illuded me. I have been insulted by Christian friends for writing a book about racism and for another book I wrote about an alternative to traditional church. I have lost 4 different jobs in ministry because I wouldn’t compromise my belief in or passion for Jesus, but when I think about how Christ-followers are treated in China and Iran and other places in the world, that hardly seems like persecution.

  2. JD, I myself, have also struggled with this same question as to why we here in America have we skated, whereas the NT church and elsewhere even now in other parts of the world, Christians continue to suffer and die for their faith. I’m confronted with only two explanations: either we already live in a portion of heaven on earth where everyone else is a believer, or else the church in in it’s current manifestation here is so much like the world that the world doesn’t even notice the difference. In other words it’s not worth of persecution. I choose to think it’s the latter. Personally I have suffered mild persuasion at my former place of employment when I refused to comply with a superior’s request to join in his racism. And again when I reminded him that as a Christian, he did not have the luxury of holding a grudge against someone without forfeiting one’s salvation.

  3. The closest I have ever come to being persecuted was when I was cruising the internet, listening to all the voices I could find within the UMC. When I would be on a UMC website and respond to an article by simply stating my understandings, the response from progressives was brutal and demeaning. There was no room for rational discussion–they made it very plain that I was deplorable and deficient in my thinking. And it happened multiple times on different websites directly associated with the UMC. That is why I am so concerned about the same type of voices in the larger culture and within the political system. Persecution is already happening with businesspeople who do not want to use their God-given talents in support of same gender relationships. So far, the response by the Supreme Court has been mixed because they are not considering cases under freedom of religion. With the most recent case, the Supreme Court specifically ruled out considering the case under freedom of religion and chose to consider it under freedom of speech.

    “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the gentiles.” Matthew 10: 16-18

  4. Thanking GOD for allowing you to share your words on this topic. I have felt this persecution that you speak of both personally and professionally and have shared these thoughts with others within a Christian setting. Of course they didn’t see it. To most people, if you aren’t being physically tortured or murdered for your faith in Christ, you aren’t being persecuted.

    Doing good is easy when the person(s) are receptive. Doing good when the person(s) isn’t receptive is where the reality of the type of persecution I believe you are referring to in this post occurs. The Scriptures talk about this in Matthew, Chapter 5 and Luke, Chapter 6. It is only through the Spirit of Love (Christ) that we can do good even when it hurts.

    The evil one uses the tools of emotional and spiritual prowess to cause many Christians to feel isolated and inferior to others. That is why it is important for us to understand the different types of persecution in order to stand firm against them including the worst types of persecutions that may lie ahead. He tells us in Matthew 10:28 (ESV) to “not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” This is Persecution 101.

    Looking at persecution from a mental health perspective, we are engaged in a national and global scale war against persecution. Fear increases the perception of persecution. Why is it that GOD says over 360 times “Do not fear”? Because He knows the depth of suffering fear brings to the soul, sometimes unto death of self and others.

    The answer to dealing with persecution of any type is found in Christ. When you submit to Him and obey His instructions, He will work through you to do good as well as to receive good. One can see how GOD works through those who do good despite the suffering others give to them. Remember Joseph?

    Thanks again for your words.

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