Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5:10-12)
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matt. 5:44)
When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matt. 10:23)
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. (Matt. 24:9)
Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ (Luke 11:49)
“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. (Luke 21:12)
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. (John 5:16)
Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If theypersecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (John 15:20)
Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— (Acts 7:52)
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)
We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; (1 Cor. 4:12)
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:9)
At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. (Galatians 4:29)
Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12)
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12)
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11)
I know this is a long post, but I just wanted to read through all of these to be reminded that to be faithful to Jesus is to welcome a tough life. But I can’t help but ask as I live in this country of comfort we call America… “What does it mean to be persecuted in this country?”
In one sense I think it’s the same here as everywhere else. It’s a fact that I hear from missionary friends all the time. Many people call themselves “Christians” but their lives don’t look a thing like what the scriptures point to. But the fact is, if we are to truly live and follow Jesus our lives should be able to be written in that chapter 11 of Hebrews called the “hall of faith” listed above.
In another sense I think it’s confusing in America to know if we’re really doing the right thing. On one end, we can think we’re being persecuted by “the man” or “corporate evangelicalism” when we stand up for the rights of the poor and marginalized. This can lead to bitterness and all sorts of hedonism. I’ve seen it before- many great friends who say they’re followers of Jesus falling to sourness, drunkenness, unhealthy sex addiction and more.
On the other end, one can have totally correct doctrine and live a pure life, but be foul and unloving to everyone who doesn’t ascribe to their theological framework or level of holiness. This person can be fooled into thinking they’re being persecuted for righteousness sake, when really they lack the grace and mercy of God.
Yet we’re called to stand for the rights of the poor and commanded to reject greed and materialism.
And we’re called to live a pure, holy life by the power of the Holy Spirit alone, ascribing to the full council of God as revealed in His Word.
So it seems that if we desire to live godly in Christ Jesus in America, we will be marginalized by nominal Christians who ascribe to either extreme described above. And if we are bold we will step into dens of evil where people are crazy or unstable, and we will face opposition in all areas of our lives, truly living as aliens on this earth by faith, not returning to the treasures and trappings of the empire that surrounds us, but living as God asks us to in the midst of an entire society and even religious situation that seems to pull us away from that.