Read Acts 8:1-8 today. It starts with, “On that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem.” It ends with, “So there was much joy in that city.”
It hit me, how could there be joy where such great persecution existed? I think it is all about perspective. If you see persecution as personal suffering without a greater end then you will avoid it like the plague. You will do anything, including giving up your faith, to make it stop. But what if you saw persecution as a way God uses to spread the truth of Christ. What if you saw persecution as a way that God displayed his power in the church and in the world. God is Sovereign and he makes persecution serve his greater purpose. Persecution advances the kingdom, it does not thwart it. Persecution opposes complacency in our life. It forces us to take serious our faith and to not take for granted the blessings God has given.
John Piper said about persecution:
- God makes persecution serve the unstoppable mission of the church—your mission, your ministry.
- If your faithfulness brings trouble to the church (like Stephen’s did), you will be honored and not blamed—at least by the godly.
- Your worst critics can become your precious comrades by the power of Christ’s converting grace.
- And the very Word—the gospel—that brings persecution sometimes, brings joy always and forever.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not praying for persecution but I do see the benefits of it and I want God to do whatever it takes to be honored in my life. That is a scary prayer but one that I pray.