Uncomfortable (S1) - Day 4

2 Timothy 3:12
Yes, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

John 15:20
Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.

So as we are to understand these texts, persecution is part of the discomfort of living a Christian life. I want to talk about persecution for a moment because I think we seem to have confused someone having a different opinion from us with persecution.

Nowadays, we often live in the public square, that is, the digital public square. For some reason, we have gone to take someone with a different opinion as someone who is persecuting us. Let us take a quick look at some of the previous persecutions that martyrs have suffered over the history of Christianity:

Stoning. I don’t know what you think stoning is. But it is not just picking up a few stones to hit someone with them. It was putting someone down in a pit and then throwing the biggest rocks you could pick up onto their heads. Paul was stoned in this manner.
Sawing. Disciples of Jesus would be sawed in two pieces. At times the long way, not the fast way.
Beating with Rods. The Romans would take their short rods, about 2.5 feet long and the thickness of the heavy side of a baseball bat, and beat people with them. Paul, again, was persecuted in this way.
Burning at the stake. Unfortunately, the church used this method to deal with heretics once it was in power.
The lions in the Coliseum in Rome. This is self-explanatory. But can you imagine what it would have been like to suffer in this manner?
Flaying. They were taking the skin off of someone while they were still alive.

Okay, enough. Do you get where I am going here? We don’t suffer the kind of persecution that those who were followers of Christ had to suffer. At least not in this country. There are countries where it is difficult, if not impossible, to be a Christian and where violence perpetrated on Christians is pretty severe. Christianity Today did an article with much of that information. (https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/january/christian-persecution-2021-countries-open-doors-watch-list.html)

Here is the list of where it is most brutal or dangerous to follow Christ.

Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus:

1. North Korea
2. Afghanistan
3. Somalia
4. Libya
5. Pakistan
6. Eritrea
7. Yemen
8. Iran
9. Nigeria
10. India

Most of us who will read this message today are not in danger because of our faith. So let's lower our rhetoric about being persecuted at this point. We are truly blessed to live where a difference of opinion is so rare that we see it as persecution.

1. Have you ever been indeed persecuted?
2. Did it weaken or strengthen your faith?
3. What would you do if you were not allowed to exercise your faith today?
4. How can you have meaningful conversations with those who disagree with you?
5. Why do you think people get so angry when discussing faith with them?

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