The Invitation - Day 25

Luke 21:12

“But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.”

I love these texts. I find so much comfort in them. Does that make me crazy? Does that make me someone who has a persecution wish? Let me explain:

While Jesus spoke of a great persecution, he also said of the opportunity to witness the goodness and greatness of Jesus. While persecution certainly seems worse than uncomfortable, our faith in Jesus is put to the test, and Jesus indicates it will be worth it. We will have the opportunity to give witness to God, to his grace and love toward us and others. We have the opportunity to share what is closest to our hearts.

Now, I get it that no one wants to be persecuted; no one wants to suffer. But how often do we get clear opportunities to talk about Jesus so profoundly and sometimes under such scrutiny? Also, remember that Jesus was speaking to those in Jerusalem, looking at a challenging time as Jesus was about to go through the trials and tribulations that would end in his crucifixion and resurrection. So, there was an urgency to these words back then.

Is there an urgency to these words today? And if you are studying these words for the first time, what should you do with them? Do we have to feel that we will be persecuted? Do we have to look forward to our families betraying us? Should we be excited about the prospect of dying?

Of course not. The urgency comes from the understanding that no matter what, it seems that Jesus is telling us that he will be with us, whether there is persecution or not, whether there is betrayal or not. The truth is, we don’t live in a world with the same situation that his followers were experiencing at the time. For most of us, Christianity is the culture we come from, or at least a part of it. We may not have as much to lose at this point in history, although some reading this may face cultural pressure to conform away from Jesus. Those who don’t meet that kind of persecution should use these texts to understand that we, too, can give ourselves over to Christ and live in a way that recognizes and is willing to sacrifice for Christ.

  1. Do these words make you nervous? 
  2. How do you teach this to someone and not scare them away? Should you lean into those texts that speak of God’s promise of safety? 
  3. Should you ignore these texts and leave them alone? Let's use the poor widow's story at the beginning and leave it at that. 

By Pastor Timothy Gillespie

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