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SUFFERING OF CHRIST

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). In a world where everyone claims the right to feel persecuted for various reasons, Christians are called to stand out, not blend in.

It is paramount to recognise that being persecuted for your faith is not about being a target but rather representing something that draws attention. As followers of Christ, our allegiance to Him should permeate every aspect of our lives. If our faith has no impact on our actions and interactions, what is the purpose of our commitment?

The apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV) that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will face persecution. As Christians, we are not called to conform to societal norms but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Standing for righteousness can lead to opposition, but we are not alone in this journey.

Jesus Himself faced isolation and persecution (John 15:20), highlighting the inevitability of being a target when representing Christ. However, the beauty lies in the community of believers, the Church, where mutual support and encouragement make the burden of persecution more bearable. It’s crucial to recognise that Jesus is the answer, not the cause. Disagreements within the Christian community, even on matters of theology, do not constitute persecution.

As we navigate the tumultuous waters of persecution, let us remember Acts 7:60, where Stephen, the first Christian martyr, prayed for his persecutors. Peter encourages us in 1 Peter 4:12-13 to rejoice in our sufferings for Christ, knowing that we share in His glory.