‘Blessed are those persecuted’

The most persecuted group of people on earth is Christians!

The most persecuted group of people on earth is Christians!

Some have suggested that is merely Christian propaganda, so for the sake of validation, I’ve decided to quote from a non-Christian source.

The source is Anthony Brown, European news correspondent for The Times, who describes himself as a “godless atheist.”

Brown writes, “Christianity is going back to its roots as the religion of the persecuted. There are now more than 300 million Christians who are either threatened with violence or legally discriminated against simply because of their faith … more than any other religion. In nations around the world, they are subjected to legalized discrimination, violence, imprisonment, relocation and forced conversion. Even in supposedly Christian Europe, Christianity has become the most mocked religion, its followers treated with public suspicion and derision.”

Brown (while denying Christ) admits that he is somewhat mystified as to why a movement with such longevity and wide acceptance would experience such harassment. The Bible, however, is not silent on this topic.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that persecution will come and He stated, “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:10)

A little later in Matthew 10:36, He adds that resistance may emanate from a person’s own family members.

Paul further elaborates in 2 Timothy 3:12. He says “… everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Peter, dealing with actuality and attitude, writes, “… don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening … If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, … rejoice … you are blessed.” (1 Peter 4:12-14)

In the next verse, Peter adds an admonition explaining that appropriate retribution for bad behaviour shouldn’t be confused with persecution for legitimate faith. Christians should never be accused as, “… a murderer or thief … or even as a busybody. (Vs. 15)

The most remarkable thing is how those who have been persecuted have dealt with their difficulties. In ancient days, Emperor Valens threatened Eusebius with confiscation of his property, torture, banishment and even death. He replied, “He need not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow.”

In modern times, I receive prayer requests from people in lands of intense persecution. They never ask for deliverance from persecution. They simply ask for prayer that they will remain faithful to Christ and present a loving, consistent, Christian testimony.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted …”

Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.