Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 27, 2015
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Acts 8:3
Why do some people hate Christians? Some religious fanatics loathe Christians, labeling us infidels deserving of death. Thus they slaughter innocent school children who name the name of Christ. Some despise Jesus followers because their alternative lifestyle is unacceptable to Christians who embrace a moral standard contrary to their own. Others dismiss Christians because they feel dismissed by Christians. For this, we as believers in Jesus must change. If our Christian brand is reciprocal love in the face of persecution—it is irresistible to Christian haters.
Saul (who became Paul) hated Christians. He tracked them down and threw them into prison. His religious zeal caused him to cross a line with Christians: persecution, imprisonment and death in some cases. Saul’s malicious intent led him to attempt an elimination of this growing sect of believers in the Savior Jesus. They threatened his religious categories. But Saul learned on the road to Damascus that his persecution was directed toward Jesus. If He persecuted a Christian—He persecuted Christ. But Jesus changed him. Christian haters can make good Christians.
“As for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:6-7).
So, what does the Lord require of us in the face of Christian hatred and persecution? He requires us not to hate, but to love back. He requires us to confess and repent of any hateful or judgmental attitudes toward those who do not embrace Jesus as Savior. The Lord compels us to hold fellow Christians accountable to righteous behavior, but our judgment does not extend to unbelievers. The unsaved are already condemned by their sin and unbelief. Love looks into the eyes of hatred and says I love you and I forgive you. Violent forces will be overcome by our nonviolent resolve.
Most of all, we see persecution as an opportunity to respond like Christ. When insulted—He refused to retaliate. When He suffered for the sake of righteousness—He made no threats. A persecuted faith is a meaningful faith. The world will hate us for our unworldly response to ungodliness. But we must resist the temptation of lowering ourselves to the tactic of angry pay back to our persecutors. Their accelerated rage requires our elevated love. The Holy Spirit will use our cool head and warm heart to draw other lost souls to Jesus. Heaven’s love overcomes worldly hate.
“Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good” (Romans 12:20, The Message).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a heart of love that serves others motivated by my sufferings.
Related Readings: John 15:18-19; Romans 10:1, 12:16-20; Philippians 3:8-10; 1 Peter 2:23
Post/Tweet this today: The Holy Spirit will use our cool head and warm heart to draw other lost souls to Jesus. #persecution #wisdomhunters
Additional Resource: 4 minute music video- Kim Walker-Smith: Unstoppable Love
© 2015 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
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