Persecution—You’re not alone.

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 

2 Timothy 3:12

New International Version (NIV)

12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

You will face rejection and suffering because of your Christian faith.

What is Persecution? Hebrews 10:32-34 (NIV) 32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

Persecution can be…
Verbal
Physical
Economic
Social
Political
Persecution: To suffer ill treatment because you are a Christian.

How Paul Dealt with Persecution: Acts 18:1-18 (NIV)

18 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protestand said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”

14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.

1. He focused on those who were receptive v 6-8
Shook out his clothes: symbolic demonstration that he was no longer responsible for those who rejected the gospel (Acts 13:51)

2. He cried out to God v 9: Paul prayed… sought God… waited on God… heard from God
Paul faced fear and discouragement…needed to be encouraged

3. Paul was certain of his calling: Paul understood he was called to proclaim Christ…no matter what!
Paul committed his life to God’s keeping

Know when to call it quits & move on
Lord is an ever constant source of strength & hope
We are called to proclaim Christ – so let your light shine!

How We Should Deal with Persecution:

Luke 6:27-28 (NIV) 27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 

Overcome the persecution spirit
Love your persecutor:
Do good…not hate
Bless…not curse
Pray for…not mistreat

 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Do not allow yourself to be sucked into a dog-eat-dog focus

1 Peter 3:13-16(NIV)  13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”[ 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Commit Yourself Totally to Christ

You are already blessed v 14
Do not fear what people can do to you v 14
Set Christ apart in your hearts v 15
Commit your life totally to God’s care & perfect will
Focus on pleasing Christ, not people
Give an answer for your hope in Christ vv 15-16
Do so with respect…keeping conscience clear

1 Peter 4:12-19 

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Your Suffering is a Participation in the Sufferings of Christ

You are not being picked on by God v 12
You will be rewarded when Christ returns v 13
Attitude is the key to victory v 15-16
Persecution demonstrates your faith is genuine v 17
Commit yourself to God & good works v 19

Church historian Bruce Shelley:
“The main cause of the hatred of early Christians in Roman society lies in their distinctive lifestyle. ‘We have the reputation,’ says Tertullian, of living aloof from the crowds.” Early Christians stood out because of their godly lifestyle – result: they were persecuted for being different.

Christians today are quick to judge and persecute others. Including, other Christians. If you are doing good Godly works and following Christ we will be persecuted, even by so called Christians. We should follow in their footsteps and be different in our culture. 

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