Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Have you ever been persecuted? If honesty forces you to say No, then you have never been fully "blessed." You are deprived! The word "persecution" has come to mean primarily suffering unjust opposition or affliction from religious authorities.
When people who are openly godless attack you, it is easier to bear than when those who profess to be servants of God do it. Jesus says, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad ... for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:11, 12).
Why is such persecution so painful for sincere people to endure? Church fellowship is like family fellowship, often more intimately so. It's like yanking a plant out of the ground by its roots; it soon withers. Where is Jesus when that happens to you?
We can find the answer in John 9: Jesus had healed the man born blind; the Jewish clergy harassed him, persecuted him, finally "cast him out" of his "church fellowship," the synagogue. "Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and ... He ... found him" (vs. 35). For Jesus to find him and be with him was part of the "blessing" that He promised to those who are persecuted for His sake.
If you have been so "persecuted," but you can be assured of one blessing regardless of the merit of your case. When your heart is aching because of the persecution you are enduring, Jesus finds you. Further, He had a conversation with the man who was born blind, to encourage him (vss. 35-39). And for sure Jesus will have a conversation with you, to encourage you in the way of truth.
Jesus feels especially close to everyone who suffers for the sake of his or her conscience, even if your conscience is "sick," in need of healing. Accept His presence; listen to Him, talk with Him; accept His healing. Your "roots" may have been yanked out of your church fellowship; now let your roots be established in Him. He will not encourage you to be self-righteous or proud, or vindictive or accusing. Instead, He will teach you holy wisdom.
If you are indeed suffering "for righteousness sake," He will encourage you to endure humbly until He vindicates your case as He did David's when he was suffering persecution under "the Lord's anointed," King Saul. Read his Psalms! Walk softly; let Jesus lead you.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 22, 1999.
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