Page Two: “Blessed Are The Persecuted” 08/19/2012
Now, according to Jesus, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are blessed. They are among those who Jesus describes as cloaked in divine gladness because they know and walk with God. My question is this. “Is persecution something we need to be concerned with?”
Here’s what the greatest human authority on the matter of Christian martyrs says. “In 2001, Barrett and his colleague Todd M. Johnson started collecting statistics on martyrs. In their seminal work World Christian Trends AD 30 – AD 2200 (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2001), they assessed that up to the year 2000 there had been some 70 million Christian martyrs, of which 45 million were concentrated in the 20th century.
The book explains the methodology used. They define Christian martyrs as “believers in Christ who have lost their lives prematurely, in situation of witnesses, as a result of human hostility”. [Found on www.cesnur.org].
These numbers come from Center for Study of Global Christianity, David B. Barrett’s U.S. organization, publisher of the World Christian Encyclopedia, the most noted authority on these matters in the world.
And the most recent update from the Study of Global Christianity says that no less than 100,000 Christians worldwide were martyred for their faith in 2010.
And the book The Price of Freedom Denied by Brian Grim and Roger Fink [Found on www.cesnur.org, The Price of Freedom Denied by sociologists Brian J. Grim e Roger Finke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011) believes that the number is more like 130,000 plus.
Now, if you take this number and divide it by the number of hours in a year, you’ll easily see that it implies that in the next hour no less than twelve people will become martyrs because they are Believers in Jesus Christ.
Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD), the man who defended the Church of Christ to the Roman Empire and one of the greatest of the Church Fathers, once wrote “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” And those who live in the days and places of severe persecution and martyrdom believe that this. The greater the persecution, the greater the advance of the Church of Christ will be.”
So, should we be concerned about Christian persecution? The answer is absolutely and unequivocally yes. If anything, we should take the matter seriously enough to pray for those who are in captivity as we speak. Here’s what we read in the Book of Hebrews. Hebrews 13:3 “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
And here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote to his son in the faith Timothy. II Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Reading the information I distributed today from Voice of the Martyrs should get you to ask the question “Why did Jesus say blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake?” By nature, it certainly does not sound at all appealing to know that if you live a godly life, will suffer persecution; does it?
You see; opposition is one thing. Unkind remarks are one thing. Taking a stand for the name of Jesus in today’s society may cause you grief. People may disdain you at a distance.
Yes, your life and your lifestyle will speak volumes when you take on the heart of righteousness.
But would you or I be able to receive the LORD’s word when He says “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake”? Being reviled, persecuted and falsely accused doesn’t outwardly appear to be something you might call blessed.