“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
If anything seems “un-Christmasy” it is the events recorded in Matthew 2:13-18. When Herod realized the Wise Men had not fallen for his trap, he became furious and killed all the male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem up to two years of age. In this way, he was sure to get rid of this newborn “King of the Jews.”
It would be hard to imagine a greater contrast than that between God’s unconditional love and Herod’s vindictiveness! Such hatred, however, has continued ever since. In many parts of the world, those who bear the name of Christ continue to be persecuted and even killed. Missionaries end up being imprisoned. Churches are burned. Children are sold into slavery or left to die. Those who convert to the Christian faith are harassed or even killed.
We can bask in the beauty and sense of goodwill that brightens our lives at this season of the year. But we also need to remember our fellow believers around the world who continue to suffer or die for no reason other than they are Christian. Is all of this “un-Christmasy”? Just the opposite. Simeon had predicted that Jesus was to be “a sign that will be spoken against" (Luke 2:34). Good and evil are not mutually compatible. Jesus told His disciples, “If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also” (John 15: 20).
Prayer: On this day of Epiphany, grant, O Lord, Your strength to those who are threatened and keep them steadfast in confessing Your name. Amen.
My Bold Action for Today: Clip articles from newspapers and magazines that allude to persecution faced by Christians and post them on your congregation’s bulletin board.
Rev. Dr. Edwin Lehman
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