This topic is of great importance to my fellow believers in the Western World. Many of us have been in the church since infancy and not a thought of being arrested or beaten for our beliefs has crossed our minds. Needless to say, we are Christians serving in One Body and One Church alongside our persecuted brethren. However, not experiencing exactly what the Apostles experienced has some of us North Americans feeling guilty or simply ashamed of ourselves. If you feel this way, your heart is most likely genuine. Do not be discouraged, rather let it encourage you to be bold in the Lord.
You log onto Facebook and you are exposed to videos of oppressed Christians in every continent apart from North America, being dismembered, arrested, or even bombed and it gets genuine believers worked up (it should). How should we react? Are we blessed to not live in one of the 50 Most Dangerous Countries to follow Jesus in? The answer depends on how you look at the issue. Persecution can and will come to any Believer. Be prepared! Wherever you are in the world, your Christianity is measured by your response to the call of Christ to reach the people with His message. So what are you doing with the Gospel in your generation? Are you afraid to tell friends, family members, or your boss that you’re a Christian? Do you shy away [out of fear of losing your job] from proclaiming the goodness of God in the midst of your co-workers? If you are ashamed of Jesus in your generation, then He will be ashamed of you in the presence of His Father and the angels [Luke 9:16]. Do not forget this.
Furthermore, let us observe the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus proclaims the Beatitudes. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account.” [Matthew 5:11-12] Let us not forget the blessings for the brethren who have not experienced persecution. For example, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the earth.” [Matthew 5:5] Or “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” [Matthew 5:8]. Jesus blesses the persecuted and the non-persecuted but if you have not experienced resistance against your faith from the world, you may want to evaluate if you are a friend of the world.
As a matter of fact, believers who suffer persecution have a unique and high calling in the Lord. Examine Saint Peter and Saint John after being flogged by the Jewish counsel for preaching in the Name of the Lord, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name [of Jesus Christ].” [Acts 5:41].” It is a high calling to suffer persecution for the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, however some members of the body of Christ may not experience the same level of persecution or persecution at the extent of the persecuted brethren living in dangerous regions.
I write not to make light of persecuted believers nor I am putting down the non-persecuted. My motive is to rather uplift us all, as the Church is comprised of both groups. We mustn’t forget the body has many members with different functions:
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. [Romans 12:4-5]
In whatever work you are doing for the Lord, it is not in vain. Let it be a constant reminder that His Spirit is one and the Gospel must be preached, regardless.