THE PERSECUTED WILL REIGN IN THE END !
By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield
As a Christian leader with a world-wide following I hear almost daily about people in various parts of the world who are being persecuted for the faith. To be persecuted for being a Christian is just as much a danger in today’s world as it was in the first century church. People who are undergoing such hardship for their faith are constantly in my prayers, and they should be in yours also. Just in recent weeks as many as a million and a half Christians have been driven from Iraq alone into Syria to avoid being murdered just for being Christians.
But what was the first century church told when they faced the same struggle ? Let’s look at what Jesus says shortly after the commissioning of the 12 disciples. We begin by looking at Mathew 10:16-17 “ “ look I’m sending you as sheep among the wolves. Therefore be wise as snakes and innocent as doves. Watch out for people because they will hand you over to councils, and beat you in their synagogues.” So the danger of persecution has existed since the first 12 people were set apart to spread Christ’s message ! Notice that Christ advise them to be wise. People, some people will try to trick Christians into dangerous places and situations. Those who know me, know that I was a military policeman in the state guard, did search and rescue with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and was a chaplain with the fire department among other things. I have seen many people in crisis, or facing danger. I have seen the same thing that Christ is saying here. When being persecuted for your faith, like any crisis the last thing you want to do is act upon the panic you so naturally feel. You need to keep your wits about you, and be hyper aware of your surroundings.
You might wonder how you will know what to say when confronted by those who would persecute you for your faith. Take strength then from what Christ says at Mathew 10:19 “ Whenever they hand you over, don’t worry about how you will speak or what you will say, because what you can say will be given to you at that moment.” Think of this, how will Christ through the Holy Spirit give you the words to say if he is not there with you. The answer of course is he will be there with you ! Remind yourself of this repeatedly. The persecution you encounter is not proof that God has abandoned you, but rather proof of your love of Christ and devotion to him. Persecution like any struggle is hard. If you are currently experiencing persecution for your faith, it is likely the hardest struggle you have ever had to face. But know that God is aware of your circumstances, and makes his strength, wisdom, and abilities available to you !
Thinking about the refugees around the world who have been forced from their homes due to their faith reminds me of what Christ predicted in Mathew 10:23 “ Whenever they harass you in one city, escape to the next, because I assure that you will not go through all the cities of Israel before the Human One comes.” Christ is telling us here that there will always be a place for those being persecuted for their Christian faith to run to. His people may be moved from one place to another, and this may cause them great grief, and struggle. However, there will always be another “city” where his people will be found.
How will it all end ? Lets look at Jesus’ promise at Mathew 10:22-23 “ Everyone will hate you on account of my name. But who-ever stands firm until the end will be saved.” Now Christ knows that some will be taken from this world due to their faith. But he is saying that those who suffer for their faith, have proven their faith. That they will enjoy the everlasting life that the Lord’s true servants all receive. In other words, the persecuted will reign in the end !