Sunday, 27 July 2014

Persecution (John 15:18-25)

Hello All,
How far would you go to remain faithful to your loved ones?
Would you only love them when things are smooth sailing and forsake them in the storm?
How far would you go to remain faithful to God?
Would you only love Him in favourable times and deny Him in the face of persecution?

Persecution (John 15:18-25)
(Anonymous, Year 2012)

If the world hates you, remember it first hated me,
If you did, it would love you as its own easily,
You're not the world's property, for you I have chosen,
That is why towards you it displays its resentment.

The words I have spoken to you please, remember,
Never is a servant greater than his master,
 If they mistreat me, they will mistreat you,
If they obeyed me, they'll obey you too.

They'll treat you in this manner because of my name,
For it's clear they know not the One from whom I came.

My coming and speaking to them has made them guilty,
For now, they have no excuse for their iniquity,
If I had not worked wonders never before seen,
Then they would never have been found guilty of sin.

But now although these miracles they have beheld,
They have hated both me and my Father as well,
But this is to fulfill what's written in their Law,
"They hated me without any reason at all"
When he comes, the promised helper:
He whom I'll send from the Father;
When the Spirit of truth's received:
He who from the Father proceeds;

He then to me shall bear witness,
Bearing witness, he'll me confess.
And you witness likewise will bear,
For from the start, you have been there.

Points for Reflection:
 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me [Jesus Christ] before it hated you.
(John 15:18)
·         As Christians, we should not be shocked at persecutions for our faith.
·         Christians from different walks of life will face persecutions at varying levels and intensity.
·         There may be some of us who face ridicule from our fellow friends or colleagues each time we do not subscribe to their priorities and lifestyle. Our refusal to compromise our moral integrity in our workplace and personal lives may raise the eyebrows of those who are too polite to voice their disapproval.
·         As followers of Christ, are we tempted to blend in with the crowd to avoid being ridiculed or regarded as ‘out of place’? In what ways have you been compromising in your faith? Do people look and you and say, ‘Well, he is not much different from us after all, although he claims to be a Christian. He is just like one of us.’? How could you learn to submit to Christ even when doing so would entail mockery?
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
(1 John 2:15)
·         Persecution is raised a step higher for those of us who suffer rejection from our family for believing in Jesus. The intensity of persecution would vary from cold shoulder treatments and verbal abuse to being disowned by our loved ones. But Jesus promises that those of us who have lost the favour of our family for Him will find comfort in Him and in our new family in Christ.
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
(Mark 10:29-30)
·         Are you being persecuted by your own flesh and blood for trusting in Christ? Find comfort in the love of Christ for He understands how you feel. He himself was once rejected by his own people. If you are tempted to turn away from Christ, I plead with you not to do so but keep your eyes focused on the eternal hope that you have in Christ. Do not trade heaven for the temporary and fleeting things of this world.
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.  
(Matthew 19:29)
·         Do you know of fellow Christians who have been rejected by their family for their faith? Are you supporting and loving them as your family in Christ? Or are you indifferent to their needs? Are you too absorbed in your own world to care about your brother in Christ who is direly in need of your time and prayer? Remember that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ because God first loved us.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35)
·         There are some of us who are even being persecuted at a national level. Legislations are passed in disfavour of those who seek to follow Christ. Violence and threats are hurled against the Church, the body of Christ. There are two extreme ways to react – one is to respond in anger towards those persecutors and the other is to be indifferent and mind our own business. Neither of those ways is right. We should be calm, respond in love, awake from our slumber and pray fervently for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are under direct fire. Keeping a low profile as a Christian is the surest way to spiritual suicide.
·         How are you reacting to persecution against Christians at a national level? In anger or in love? In apathy or in genuine concern? In selfishness or in selflessness? If it boils down to it, would you stand firm for Christ in the face of persecution, even it claims your very life?
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my [Jesus’] sake will find it.

(Matthew 10:39)