Persecution

This was originally posted on J.F. Arnold’s personal blog, and can be found here. I wanted to post this here, since I still find myself closing posts and conversations with the phrase “Christ Abide.” The end of this post includes a brief (and incomplete) explanation of the phrase.

As Christians, we expect to be persecuted. Our expectation for hardships in this life comes directly from Jesus, who told us that people would hate us for his name’s sake (Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13, and John 15:21).

But not all hardship occurs because of Jesus’ name. Some hardships do come because of our faith in Christ, either directly or indirectly. Whether a direct result from the name of Christ or a proclamation of faith, or from the persecution that sometimes (often?) accompanies holding to a moral standard higher than one’s self, the Christian lifestyle is and should be filled with persecutions.

A persecution for Jesus’ name is not the same as a persecution endured by a Christian. If a Christian’s car is stolen it is likely not because they are a Christian, but perhaps because they drove a nice car, or were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This might be more accurately understood as a persecution for wealth than a persecution for the name of Christ. While it is possible that the thief took the car in order to harm or hurt the owner because of the owner’s Christianity, it seems unlikely.

While we should never seek to be persecuted (for he who seeks out hardship does not understand the joy found in Christ), we should consider the reasons we give people to persecute us. Many different beliefs and causes can put us in a position to be trod upon. Ideally, a Christian would be persecuted only the for the sake of Christ. The only way to achieve this is to remove from our lives the aspects which could be hated on or used against us, if possible.

To be blameless is a high and lofty goal, but if a man is blameless and persecuted for his faith, there is no doubt concerning the truth of his faith. Christ suffered greatly after living a blameless life, and this persecution that he endured is to be analogous to what we will endure. If we are being persecuted for something we brought on ourself (wrongs we have committed, for example), we are not sharing in Christ’s suffering.

Blamelessness is not a prerequisite for being persecuted for the name of Christ. But persecution for the name of Christ arises most purely when our suffering is most similar to Christ’s suffering.

Seek blamelessness. Jesus himself said that we should seek to be perfect like his father is perfect. As we approach blamelessness, life becomes harder. The reasons for this are twofold (at least): 1. Our discipline must remain strong and still increase. 2. Our persecutions will increase as we look more like Christ.

When I close these blogs with “Christ Abide” (which is also how I have become accustomed to closing conversations with people), it carries multiple meanings. First, it is similar to saying God Bless, in that I hope that Christ abides in you, as he promised he would. Second, it is a reminder to abide in Christ, that he may abide in you. Third, it is a reminder of all of what Christ’s presence carries, including persecution. If Christ abides in us and we become more like Him, we will suffer more, just like Him. This is not bad, in that it connects us to Christ.

With all of that said:

Christ Abide.

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