"Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you" [Mt 5:11-12].The persecution of Christians stems primarily from our doing as Jesus instructed us. So long as we obey the Lord's command to "Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations..." [Mt 28:19], we will be persecuted by those whose vision for the world coincides with that of the prince of the world. St. Paul didn't mince words when he told the Ephesians that our struggle is against Satan:
"Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens" [Eph 6:11-12].As Jesus reminded us, "...the ruler of the world is coming" [Jn 14:30]. But then He added, "He has no power over me..." And if Satan has no power over Jesus, then he has no power over the Church; for Christ and His Church are one, even in the midst of persecution. Recall how Jesus confronted Saul, the persecutor of Christians, on the road to Damascus: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" [Acts 9:4] Yes, when the Church suffers persecution, so too does our Lord.
Let's see, then, just a few of the examples of how our Lord is suffering in the world lately...
|Muslim mob burning Christian homes in Lahore|
|Victim of attack|
"Hostility and religious intolerance continue to grow and are a cause of serious concern for the vulnerable Christian minority. These believers had gathered for a night vigil, an absolutely legal act. Freedom of religion is a constitutional right, but these extremists have political protection in Karnataka's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, ultra-nationalist Hindu party) and are encouraged to persecute the Christian community, particularly the Pentecostals."
|Copt protests persecution in Egypt|
|Egyptian Copt weeps over Christian killed in confrontation with police|
A new Islamic militant group, which calls itself Jihad al-Kufr, meaning jihad (holy war) against non-believers or non-Muslims, is threatening Christians in Egypt, Fox News reports. According to an Arabic news site, several Coptic Christians were told to convert to Islam or die. Under Sharia law, leaving Islam is punishable by death, and Sharia is cited as a source of law in Egypt’s new constitution that was approved in December. Under Egypt’s new Islamist government, radicals have gained unprecedented freedoms to implement their interpretation of Sharia on Egypt’s streets, as attacks against Christians and their places of worship have increased while offenders roam free without fear of punishment. “This incident caught the attention of the news agencies, but there are worse things happening to the Christians every day in Egypt,” said Adel Guindy, president of Coptic Solidarity and a member of Egypt’s Coptic community.The growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups in President Mohammed Morsi's administration makes it unlikely the persecution of Egypt's Christians will do anything but increase. Read more here.
I have no time to continue but, as Jesus predicted, the persecution of Christians will continue unabated. Pray for the Church and for those who suffer today for their faith.