Q. These days we often hear that the end times are fast approaching and that Christians will be persecuted. What should we do when this happens?
A. Let me answer this in sections:
Actually, persecutions exist throughout church history, not just in the end times:
• Mk 10:30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
It’s only when it happens to Christians elsewhere and not in N. America, we don’t pay as much attention.
Who and Why?
The persecutors include “people” (Mt 5:11) and government authorities (Lk 21:12). The former took place, for example, when Communists, Socialists and dictators mandated citizens to report on their friends’ and neighbors’ suspected “subversive” activities. Even family members will turn against each other:
• Mt 10:21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.
The reasons for persecution are many, but primarily because of Christ (Jn 15:20; 2 Co 12:10). Christians are persecuted for His name’s sake (Lk 21:12), for the cross of Christ (Ga 6:12), for righteousness’ sake (Mt 5:10), and for desiring to live godly in Christ Jesus:
• Mt 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
• Lk 21:12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake.
• Jn 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
• 2 Co 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
• Ga 6:12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
• 2 Tim 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
What form will the persecutions take? There are many forms, including:
• Verbal: insults (Mt 5:11; 2 Co 12:10), false accusations (Mt 5:11);
• Loss of freedom: imprisonment (Lk 21:12);
• Beatings: struck down (2 Co 4:9);
• Starvation: famine (Rom 8:35);
• Humiliation, cold: nakedness (Rom 8:35);
• Death: sword (Rom 8:35).
• 2 Co 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
• Rom 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
(To be continued)