The church of Smyrna was told by the risen Lord Jesus that it would face an intense time of persecution, but not to be afraid (Revelation 2:10). Put yourself in that sanctuary that morning when the messenger of the church stood before them to make the morning announcements: “Today, the Lord Jesus wants me to tell you that in the near future you are going to experience great persecution, imprisonment, and even martyrdom for His Name’s sake.” I wonder how many of us would “feel led” to find another church! If a person abandons their “faith” in Jesus because of persecution, they never had saving faith in Him in the first place (Matthew 13:21; Mark 4:17). The Scriptures tell us that if we choose to follow The Lord Jesus and live a godly life, we will inevitably face persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).
The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness are never in agreement (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). There are two families of people on earth, the regenerated children of the living God and the children of the devil (1 John 3:9,10). The devil is the god of this fallen world system (2 Corinthians 4:4), and thus, the spirit of this world is the spirit of antichrist (1 John 2:18,22, 4:3; 2 John 1:7). Therefore, followers of the Lord Jesus are on a moral collision course with the religions and principles of this world. That is one reason why we are told by John not to love this world (1 John 2:15-17).
What should be our perspective when we are persecuted? Jesus tells us that when we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, we are blessed indeed (Matthew 5:10-12). We are also reminded that persecution can never separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39). Persecution is not something that we go out and look for; it is the reaction of the world to the truth of God. Jesus said that we are not to be surprised if the world hates us, because it hated Him first (John 15:18-20). Jesus also told us to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Paul exhorts us to bless those who persecute us (Romans 12:14).
A key to dealing with persecution is a divine perspective; seeing the big picture instead of the vaporous here and now. A crown of life awaits all those who stand with Jesus in this fallen world. “He who has an ear, let him hear…” (Revelation 2:10,11).