Christian persecution is any hostility, experienced from the world, because of one’s identification with Jesus Christ. This can include hostile feelings, attitudes, words and actions. But what does the Bible mean by the word “persecution”? In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus says in the Beatitudes that persecution is a blessing. Not one that many of us ever desire!
Jesus also defines the word for us in Luke 6:22 using four verbs. He says, “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” Note that it is Jesus in you who is the reason for, and the target of, persecution.
In Romans 8:17, the apostle Paul tells us, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” So, when we share in Jesus’ sufferings (hatred, exclusion, insults, and rejection) we become heirs who will also share in His glory. The four verbs above can be experienced in varying degrees of intensity.
Unfortunately, many Christians today, operate under the assumption that persecution is a part of the Church’s past. The truth is that there are members of the body of Christ that currently face severe persecution and restrictions because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Every day of every year, and on every continent, men and women face persecution because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
Here are a few examples of the kinds of persecution Christians face today:
The Open Doors World Watch List is compiled each year and ranks the Top 50 countries in the world where Christians face the worst persecution for their faith in Jesus. This list is based on detailed information from Open Doors co-workers, in over 65 countries, as well as independent experts.
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