(Jesus said) "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12
There are times when the Lord must look down from heaven, sadly shake His head and say, "See, I told you."
One of those times had to have come two weeks ago after the Supreme Court decided Hobby Lobby, and others, didn't have to violate their consciences and pay for abortions. The reactions of some politicians and many in the media were amazing. One after another they jockeyed for microphone time where they made up bald-faced lies like, "The owners of ... Hobby Lobby ... don't like ... the part (of Obamacare) that requires insurance companies to cover contraceptives."
One fear monger's article suggested that America should be ready for future rulings which would 1) allow public nudity; 2) legalize LSD, so people could talk with God; 3) make marijuana a religion; 4) introduce stoning as a punishment for women; and 5) allow domestic violence to go unpunished.
If it weren't so sad, it would be funny. As it is, the Lord must be saying, "I told you so."
And Jesus did tell us. In the verse above He said, like the prophets, His Christians would be reviled, rejected and persecuted. In John 15, the Savior became more specific. There He warns, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world ... the world hates you" (see John 15:18-19).
Perhaps Jesus' ultimate warning came when He was carrying His cross to Calvary. Turning to the weeping women of Jerusalem, the Lord foretold, "If they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?" (Luke 23:31). It was His way of saying, "If the world crucifies God's innocent Son, what will it do to His followers who are sinners?"
Truly, Jesus has warned us, and I imagine we -- or our children and grandchildren -- shall soon find out what the world will do. The question is, "How shall we prepare ourselves for persecution?"
A number of suggestions come to mind. Amongst other things, we ought to
1. search the Scriptures and see how God brought His people of faith through difficult times;
2. pray for all those who are being persecuted in body and mind, economically and socially;
3. make sure those who come after us are well grounded in the faith and coached in how to respond.
Armed in this way, we may not be able to change what the world is going to do, but we can be prepared to stand fast in the Savior.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in every generation the forces of evil plan assaults on those of us who live in the kingdom of grace. By Your power, we pray that we, and all those in the faith, may emerge victorious and having given a witness to Your power and love. This I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.
The Savior asked His followers to share His story of salvation. Sadly, doing so can be frightening and intimidating. If you would like to learn how to be more comfortable fulfilling the Lord's request, Lutheran Hour Ministries is holding a SENT Outreach Conference in Detroit, covering the dates of July 24-27. For more information, see www.lhm.org/conference.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries