“Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.” (Life Application Study Bible 2007) These are the words of Jesus in John 15:20. Here our Master set the expectation for persecution to be normal to the life of a Christian. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one who clearly understood suffering and persecution, agrees that suffering is part of God’s will and is not without purpose. He points out that, “This suffering will help forward their testimony. It is all part of God’s plan and the will of Jesus…” (Bonhoeffer 1995, 214). He adds, “The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the divisions which rend cities and homes.” (Bonhoeffer 1995, 215) If we begin with this understanding in mind, we can press forward in The Mission and not lose heart. As Bock points out, “The early believers also recognize that their rejection was something to be anticipated, and they accept it with praise.” (Bock 2007, 202) They didn’t give up or pray to be freed from the persecution. They prayed for boldness in the face of persecution.
That we would even ask if suffering persecution is normal for a Christian is evidence of a disconnect we in the Western world have with our Brothers and Sisters across the globe, who face the reality of persecution and suffering every day for the name of Christ. The following link leads to an article that powerfully discusses this very matter:
Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Life Application Study Bible. Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2007.