Persecuted for truth

statue-5998_640Jeremiah 20:2: Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.

Jeremiah got into trouble because he spoke the truth. He was God’s mouthpiece and God, because of the unrepentant nature of the children of Israel and their leaders in their unfaithfulness, had damning things to speak through prophet Jeremiah. But human beings do not have an ear for truth, has the tendency to believe lies.

Jesus said that John the Baptist, came not eating and drinking and they did not believe him (Matthew 11:18-19), but Jesus came associating with people, eating and drinking, and they still did not believe him. So what do they want? So note your persecutors are not going to be convinced whatever you do.

A bunch of people came to Jesus asking him to give them a sign. He refused to indulge them (Mark 8:12). The power of God is not for gaming; it is not for show off. Jesus was not amenable to their wished so they persecuted him. He did not match their expectation, so they persecuted him. If you do not yield to people, they may set out to persecute you no matter what.

Jesus was persecuted for truth. Once, because the people did not like the words he speaks to them, they wanted to throw him over the cliff (Luke 4:28-23), but God gave him a way of escape.

Stephen the first martyr of the church was killed because of his commitment to truth. He presented a perspective to the people of the ways of God, x-raying their wicked heart. He was stoned to death. That showed the hardness of their heart, their response to the truth was to kill the bearer (Acts 7).

Then it was clear that being a Christian could actually be a death sentence. It is in the context of the physical danger that Paul was faced on a daily basis because he bore true that he said: I die daily (1Corinthians 15:21). He was committed to preaching that circumcision is not required to come into a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, since Jesus’ blood offers a different set of benefit, deeper and higher than the Levitical priesthood. And for that the Jews wanted to kill him since he was “ruining the very basis of their religion.” At a time some Jews bound themselves with an oath that they will not eat until they have killed Paul (Acts 23:21), but God gave him a way of escape.

Jesus said to the disciples that they have been sent as sheep among wolves, so they be wise as serpent and as gentle as dove (Matthew 10:16). The wolf is meant to devour the sheep, but to be able to navigate the difficult terrain of life we are meant to be skilful in associating (snake) and dissociating (dove) from the world.

The dove is a bird that flies while the serpent crawls. We must be both divinely savvy (dove) and earthly savvy (snake), we are meant to be both gentle (dove) and wise (snake), powerful (snake) and weak (dove), forceful (snake) and subtle (dove).

Because the serpent seeks for opportunity to strike, we are not supposed to be onlookers in life but be sensitive to know when it is right to strike people with the message of the gospel, infuse them with truth.

Peter and John at the beautiful gate were aware of this. When the man lame from his birth and forty years of age looked to them for some money while they approached the temple, they told him: silver and gold we have not but what we have we give to you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk (Acts 3-4). And he did, to the amazement of everyone there. Peter then “struck” the people with the message of the gospel, and five thousand people were won to Christ (infused with the truth of the gospel). But for that they soon faced persecution, they spoke truth, but the Pharisees set out to punish them for it. Therefore, there is always the risk of persecution, as long as you are committed to truth.

We cannot live a life blended with the world, when we are of heaven, as light in the world’s darkness. Paul had a commitment to truth and was persecuted in like measure. Because of the danger of telling the truth the fearful cannot walk with God. Jesus said that we should not fear those who can only destroy the body but not the soul (Matthew 10:28), but we should fear God who can destroy both the body and soul in hell. Paul charged Timothy that he should not yield to the spirit of fear but should manifest power, love and sound mind (2Timothy 1:6-7) though he was going to face opposition to the truth he represents and communicates.

Because what you stand for is true does not mean people will not oppose you. So if you are focused on being liked by everyone you cannot be a follower of Christ. Jesus said woe to those who are liked by everyone because that was how they liked the false prophets.

The word of God is not all sweet. It has rebuke, correction, which was what stirred rejection in the people of Israel to whom Jeremiah was sent; so they persecuted him. People do not want to be told they are wrong. They are bent on their own way. That is the fruit of the rebellion in the Garden of Eden. In the absence of the light from God, everyone sets out to be his own “light,” following the dictates of his own heart.

Abel was persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for truth (Genesis 4:1-12). He did the right thing but became the target of retribution from his brother Cain. That was the ultimate kind of rejection (premeditated murder) so much so that his blood cried out from the ground to God for vengeance.

Daniel was the butt of persecution when as a Jew he stood out among the administrators in the land of his captivity. They set a trap for him and he was thrown into the den of lions but was rescued him by an angel to shut up the mouth of the lions (Daniel 6).

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were told to bow down and worship the image made by great king Nebuchadnezzar on the fear of being thrown alive into a burning furnace. They called the bluff of the King. Though persecuted for truth, they came out on the top and they were preserved supernaturally when they were thrown into the furnace. When they did not bend in their commitment to truth even though persecuted, the king bent to their God (Daniel 3).

 

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