Jesus - “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” (Matthew 5:11)
As Christians, we are called to be Difference Makers in our homes, our churches, our communities, and in our culture. However, we must also understand that the Bible teaches that everyone who stands up for Jesus will experience persecution. The Apostle Paul writes that “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
All of Jesus’ original disciples (except Judas) experienced persecution and suffering in their lives. Peter was crucified upside down. James was beheaded. Matthew was fed to the lions. Ten of the original twelve disciples died as martyrs. John was the only one who was not killed violently, but he was exiled to the Island of Patmos. ALL Christians will experience some type of persecution if they are actively serving the Lord and seeking to do His will. Someone once said that “‘All’ means ‘all’ and that’s “all, all means.” We are all going to experience persecution of some kind because of our work for the Lord.
There are two main reasons Christians experience so much persecution. First, we experience persecution because of the lives we live. As stated above, Paul wrote to Timothy that “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12). Second, we experience persecution because of the Lord we love. Jesus said, “The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A servant is not greater than their master.’ Since they persecuted Me, naturally they will persecute you.” (John 15:19-20)
As Difference Makers, we will experience persecution, so it’s important to know how we should respond. First, when we are persecuted we should rejoice in the Lord. Jesus said that when we are persecuted, we should “Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” (Mark 5:12. Secondly, when we are persecuted, we should love the ones who hurt us. Jesus said, “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45). Finally, when we are persecuted, we should share the gospel with even more people. We see this example in Acts 8 and throughout church history. Ironically, the persecution of Difference Makers often inspires them to make an even bigger difference. We should do the same.
Followup Activity - In what ways have you experienced persecution because you are a Difference Maker for Jesus? Write out a prayer to the Lord, asking Him to help you always respond appropriately to persecution. If you’re leading your family through this devotion, dialogue with them about persecution in today’s world, then write out a prayer as a family.
Prayer for Today - Lord, even in the face of persecution, help me to be a Difference Maker for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.