There is a lot of evil in the world today. We were reminded during our time of communion the other day of the evil that existed during WWII with the Holocaust, and in a lot of ways, it seems like history is starting to repeat itself. We are hearing on almost a daily basis about Christians being kidnapped, beheaded, burned alive, or many other horrific things at the hands of ISIS and other groups. It seems like there is just more and more persecution happening around the world, and some of it seems to be starting here in the US as well. We should definitely be praying for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ for strength to hold to our faith.
But what is bothering me more than anything about all of this situation is the fact that most Christians, at least ones that are being vocal about what is going on, seem surprised that it is happening. They seem to not understand why this persecution is happening and they can’t understand that “in this day and age” why this type of evil still exists. I understand this, in the sense that we, as Christians, are called to love everyone. So in our view, we should be able to get along. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21 NIV)
The problem is, we think this applies to everyone, but not everyone knows Christ. That’s why we are surprised when this evil still exists in the world. But it shouldn’t surprise us at all. Jesus, in fact, told us that we would face persecution because of our faith and relationship with Him. If we believe His word, then why are we surprised that persecution is still happening. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” (John 15:18-21 NIV).
Pray for our brothers and sisters around the globe that are being persecuted. Pray for strength to stand firm in the face of evil. But don’t be caught off guard that this is still happening. Jesus told us it would, because the world hated Him first. We also have to remember that as far as it depends on us, live at peace as well.