Lesson 62—April 19, 2015
Audio commentary by Life Focus teacher, David Daniel
Real Persecution-Part 1
Scripture: Matthew 5:10-12
Lesson Goal: To better understand real persecution in the life of the true believer.
“Persecution”—someone does not speak to us or give us the cordial greeting we expect or think we are entitled to, and we call it “persecution.”
Someone says unkind and hurtful things to us or about us, and we call it “persecution.”
Someone manipulates things or circumstances to their advantage and to our disadvantage, and we call ourselves “persecuted.”
Someone comes against our ideas or sets themselves against us, and we deem it “persecution.”
Someone laughs at us, makes fun of us, slanders our name, and we call it “persecution.”
What is persecution? In your own words, write a definition of “persecution.”
Can you remember a time in your life when you suffered because of your faith in Jesus Christ?
It is important to understand that the persecution that today’s lesson refers to is the persecution that comes as a result of one’s faith in Jesus Christ. It is the persecution inflicted upon individuals because they have responded in faith to follow Jesus. These individuals find that being a true disciple comes at great cost.
As I write this lesson, I must accept the simple truth that I personally know very little about persecution, especially from an experiential standpoint (having experienced). I have, on occasion, used words such as “persecute,” “persecution,” and “persecuted” in reference to situations in my own life, but God has taught me about real persecution through the lives of brothers and sisters who have lived in the midst of it. For many, it is simply a way of life.
I have been blessed to meet a few of these special warriors for Jesus Christ. Those who stood for Jesus and His Lordship against intense unimaginable persecution to themselves and their families. Allow me to share with you about one of these champions for Jesus Christ. I remind you that this is a true story about real people. None of this is fictional, make-believe, or just ministers’ hearsay. These are real people, real servants who surrendered their lives and paid the cost for being His followers. Before I offer this personal example, please read Matthew 10:38; John 15:18-21; and 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.
“Persecution”—A man responds first to the call of God for salvation. Then after some time, receives the call of God to preach the Gospel. This same Gospel that had rescued him from his sins would be the Gospel that he would preach the rest of his life. This man called by God is a husband and a father who loves his family very much, but he totally surrenders his life to God’s call. He must preach the Gospel! He is warned by extremist who oppose his message that he must stop or suffer the consequences of their wrath. He does not stop preaching the Gospel, and his voice is not silenced by those who come against him. In fact, as he preaches, the seed of the Word of God is sown on good ground, and many respond to the call of salvation and are saved by the power of Jesus Christ. The warnings to silence this preacher grow stronger and the threats become more violent and real. But no matter the cost, he must stand for Jesus and share the good news that Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
One Sunday morning the pastor and his family prepared to go to church. Just before leaving, the fourteen-year-old son became ill. It was decided that he would stay home and the rest of the family would go to church. While they attended Sunday morning services, those who had tried to silence the pastor entered the his home and found his son there alone.
The services dismissed for the day and the pastor and his family returned home. They arrived and quickly determined that something was wrong, bad wrong. As they entered, in horror and shock, they found the lifeless body of their son and brother. Those who had threatened to silence the pastor had murdered his precious son. They had hung him to his death.
But the story continues. Even in the midst of such pain, sorrow and suffering, the pastor would not denounce his faith and silence his voice. What the persecutors intended to accomplish through this hatred and persecution only served as a catalyst to sound forth the Gospel message. The pastor’s message would not be stopped. In fact, from this pastor’s family would come three sons who became pastors and a granddaughter who would become the wife of a bi-vocational associate pastor.
This pastor is the grandfather of our God-sent daughter-in-law, Gwen. The fourteen-year-old son was Gwen’s uncle she never knew and the brother of Pastors Marco, Abner and Omar.
The next time you’re being tempted to have a pity party because someone hurt your feelings (persecution?), you might want to remember this story. For most of us, myself very much included, we know very little about real persecution.
(V10) Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Unfortunately, people who exemplify the characteristics already mentioned (vv 3-9), who put others before themselves and who attempt to make peace, will seldom receive honor or applause. Often they will be persecuted instead” (Galvin).
In these basic beatitudes we have studied over the last few weeks, we find that they represent and teach us “an outlook radically different from that of the world. We must expect to be persecuted if we are living as God wants us to live. But we must be sure that our suffering is not due to our own foolishness or disobedience” (Wiersbe).
The persecution Jesus spoke of was the persecution “for righteousness’ sake” that comes as a result of a true believer living in accordance to the beatitudes of which He had just spoken. There is a truth presented. If a follower of Jesus Christ lives out the words of verses 3 through 9, he will experience the results of verses 10 through 12.
How are you living out the words of verses 3 through 9?
Concerning persecution, what should the true followers of Jesus Christ expect in the next 10 years? Twenty years? Thirty years? Please do not answer casually, because God is using this lesson in 2015 to prepare some of you for what awaits you in the years to come. Young couple, please answer prayerfully. Teenager, get real and honest for a couple of minutes. What some of you will face, God is trying to prepare you for even today! Will we be wise enough to hear Him?
The closer I am to Jesus Christ, the better I can handle the persecution when it comes.
God is trying to prepare us. Will we understand the importance of becoming prepared?
How is God preparing us for the persecution that lies ahead?
All these thoughts make Paul’s words more important than ever. “Maranatha”—come quickly Lord Jesus!
Be thankful God has blessed and graced you to live in Tennessee, USA, where we know very little about “persecution.”