According to Open Doors USA, 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians every month. In many areas of our world, Christians experience persecution on a daily basis.
These facts should grieve but not surprise us. Jesus said this would happen. In our text today, He tells His disciples the plain truth without mincing words: they would be hated in this world by those who hated Him first (v. 18). Jesus knew those who followed Him would face severe persecution. Here He assures them that the suffering they will face is not because of anything they have done wrong. In fact, it is because of what they have done right.
The world attacks Christ-followers because they “do not belong to the world” (v. 19). The world does not obey Jesus’ teaching and does not recognize Him as God. What are we to do? First, Jesus told the disciples that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they must testify about Him. We must never quit speaking of Jesus, even in the face of rejection (v. 27). Second, they must not be surprised or disheartened. As opposition increases to Christianity, we must realize that Jesus said it would be so: “Remember what I told you” (v. 20).
Remember too that those who oppose Jesus will face judgment and be found guilty (v. 22). They have the revelation of God, through Jesus. They have both His miracles and His message, and are therefore fully responsible for their hatred and rejection. How much better to endure persecution for the sake of Jesus than to face God’s judgment for rejecting Him! And we do not stand alone, for through the power of the Holy Spirit we bring glory to God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Pray today for your brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith. For specific prayer requests, you can download a world prayer map from the website of Release International. As part of your prayer time, ask God to strengthen your own witness and willingness to share the good news about salvation in Jesus Christ.