I think that this is a good article to read for anyone who is experiencing persecution in their lives. Just so we all understand persecution, let’s define it.
Persecution – act of persecuting.
Persecute – to subject to cruel treatment, esp. because of religion or race.
What is cruel treatment? Could be anything. I take it to mean any antagonism against our faith. It is a part of being a Christian in this dark world. It is going to happen if we lead the lives we are called to. I love how the author of James says this about persecution, or trials –
2Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
3Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
4But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
He does not say “if” we run into trials, but “whenever”, which tells me that it is pretty much a given that we will run into trials, tribulations, persecutions.
I have most definitely run across trials in my life, and it can be difficult at times to not react out of anger. Especially with things like this “the more religious you are, the less intelligent you are likely to be”; “you have mentally regressed”; “you are irrational and arrogant in believing the Bible”. Utter ridiculousness. But! We should take it in stride. I do my best with it. I sincerely do. The problem is that I should be relying on God’s help when these trials come, and not myself. Forgiveness is key.
Update 4/27/12: another way to respond to persecution is to bless the persecutor with the love of Christ, God. Works every time.