We’re living in a time when persecution is happening all over the world. In the United States, it’s happening but to a much lesser degree. According to Jesus, we will be persecuted. When you read I Peter, you read the heart of the 1st-century church that was going through severe persecution. Peter wrote to encourage the believers to remain faithful. He’s giving us wisdom for how we are supposed to respond when it comes.
The scripture that jumps out at me is I Peter 5:6-10.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
In these verses, we see Satan described as our enemy, who is like a roaring lion seeking to destroy his prey. We are instructed to cast all our anxiety and fears upon the Lord. Whether it’s a person or circumstances that are coming against us, behind that it’s an unseen force. We have to remain faithful to Jesus, love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43). This is impossible without the fullness of the Spirit.
Suffering is Worldwide
On November 3rd, we will participate in the International Day of Prayer to remember those that are suffering around the world for their faith in Jesus. We are their brothers and sisters in Christ. One of my prayers is to turn persecutors into preachers (like the Apostle Paul). Our main prayer request is not to make the persecution end but for people to come to know Jesus. Sometimes persecution brings more results in the area of evangelism than the life of ease and comfort. Jesus said persecution will come, and I Peter shows us how to stand firm in our faith while facing fierce opposition.
Voice of Martyrs (VOM) in Bartlesville is very active in helping the persecuted brethren all over the world. I have experienced first-hand the stories of pastors and their families and have had lunch with, and sat across the table from people who have suffered horrific persecution. They have determined that they are going to forgive and ask for the salvation of those persecuting them.
A Witness to Suffering
It’s mind-boggling to sit in the presence of an invisible, humble Christian and see the love of Jesus for someone who has brutally murdered and harmed family members. What an honor it is to see the persecuted work through that process of forgiveness and see the gospel come to life. I sat across the table from a mom and her son, who was in his 20’s. Her husband and three other children were killed because of their faith in Jesus. Her grief made her body weak and appeared a shell of a person. She spoke in low tones though she did smile. Even though she was walking through pain, fear, and extreme personal loss, she expressed to me forgiveness for those who committed these acts of evil. Each day was a renewed choice to forgive.
The God of All Grace sermon series continues with Part 2, “Grace in Times of Suffering,” this Sunday. If you missed this series or any part of our other sermon series, you can watch it on YouTube and Facebook.
Walking Through Persecution to Freedom
Eastwood Tulsa will be starting a RightNow Media Original, “The Book of First Peter” by Kyle Idleman, on September 30th. You can get your free access at eastwoodtulsa.org/rightnow.
“The Book of First Peter”
This world looks nothing like the promised perfect kingdom of God. And yet we as God’s people must live in it every day. In The Book of 1 Peter, Kyle Idleman walks through the short letter and unpacks the importance of our witness in this world.
The world’s not as it should be. Until the day that God rights all wrongs, we have a job to do. Let’s be about the business of the kingdom.
If you are walking through suffering and would like us to pray for you, please contact us at [email protected].