Sunday, 19 August 2007

Persecution of Christians

The comment is often made that Christians in the West (normally) don't really suffer persecution - certainly not in comparison to our brothers and sisters in, say, Muslim countries. It is undeniably true that Christians in such countries are undergoing severe persecution and we should pray for and support them as much as we can. A good resource is the Barnabas Fund.

That said, 1 Peter has some interesting phrases that are easy to overlook in this regard. 2:12 talks about people who ‘speak against you as evil doers’; 2:23 speaks about Christ being ‘reviled’ (cf. 3:9); 3:16 talks about being ‘slandered’ and this is immediately tied to suffering in verse 17. The point of this is that while physical suffering is certainly a terrible reality (cf. 2:20), to be slandered and reviled for your faith is still suffering. Yes, we can thank God that the suffering we undergo is relatively mild, but we can still encourage the Christian who gets verbal abuse of whatever sort that they are truly undergoing suffering and following in their Master’s footsteps. To deny this is to rob Christians of the encouragement of following their Master and to go beyond Scripture. Would one or two of our many readers like to comment?

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