I was talking to a precious friend the other day. She was stressed about her job. She was the only evangelical Christian she knew in her position. She was surrounded by coworkers who were not religious and considerably more politically liberal than her.
My friend told me, “I feel persecuted because I have to keep my opinions about gender roles and taking God’s name in vain to myself.”
I asked her if anyone had been unkind to her and she said, “No, not yet.”
Then I asked her how Jesus treated the people who lived sinfully in his day (tax collectors, women caught in adultery).
She quickly responded, “He loved them.”
I asked her, “Who did Jesus call names like ‘white-washed sepulchers’?”
She thought just a few seconds then answered (because she is well-read in Scripture), “The Pharisees.”
“So,” I followed up, “Jesus fussed at the religious leaders, not the sinners?”
“Right, he treated the sinners with love.”
“Then, how might you look at your coworkers who don’t know God and live lifestyles you don’t feel comfortable with?”
“I could love them and treat them kindly. I could let Jesus love them through me!”
“Awesome!” I was happy for her, but followed up with, “What if you get persecuted when someone finds out you are a Christian?”
“Well, I won’t like it, but Jesus said, “blessed are they when they are persecuted for righteousness sake.”
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
My friend was feeling more empowered. Then she paused, looking perplexed. “But the epistles tell us to straighten up when we behave sinfully.”
“And who were the Epistles written to?” I inquired.
We looked: to the church.
Perhaps we Christians can relax a little. Sometimes it is fun to feel like everyone is out to get us. It helps us draw together against a common enemy, but the world is not our enemy. God so LOVED the world.
We need to look at who is the author of that *it’s bad to be persecuted* mentality. If we get angry and upset because people are insulted by our faith, then hooray!