How should Christians handle direct persecution and mockery from groups of people or individuals?
Matthew (your namesake!) 5:43-47 is a good passage to read re this. Hard to live, though.
I Peter 3:15-17 and Acts 5:41 (the apostles were exuberant on being found worthy to suffer for claiming Him).
You might be doing something right, if you are found worthy of ridicule for His sake!
Other thoughts from the community?
I think there are some things to keep in mind:
- The Bible says we will be persecuted–we will suffer for our faith. The good news is that we’ve already been rewarded for it with eternal life.
- A big fear is rejection (I really deal with this) but train yourself to carry on anyway. Remember the cross was the solution to the ultimate rejection. Nothing that happens to us will compare with that.
- Don’t allow others behavior to harden your heart. Loving compassion is the best weapon against hate.
- Arguments don’t usually bear fruit, but a respectful dialog may. We can’t always steer a discourse into the respectful, but we can try.
- Keep your cool. Engage in a way that doesn’t come across as condemning. The phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner” applies.
- Don’t tackle it in your own power. Seek the spirit for wisdom and discernment.
- Remember that even your persecutor is created in the image of God. God’s will is that none should perish.
- Remember that the Apostle Paul persecuted the early church before Jesus got a hold of him. Imagine what could become of your mocker if Jesus gets a hold of him (or her).
- Be patient. Be helpful. Be kind.
None of really know how we’ll handle things until a situation arises, but I think it’s helpful to know how we are to respond (like Jesus) and how to forgive (like Jesus). When you get right down to it, IN CHRIST, we have the upper hand.
I read a poem (sort of) that I had thought originated with Mother Teresa, but it was actually written by Dr. Kent Keith. I keep it at my desk as a reminder:
The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
I think the same attitude will help us with persecutors and mockers. Love them anyway.
Hi, Matthew! The response might differ depending upon context and the situation. Of course, as the others above pointed out, we are to love everyone, even our enemies and keep on praying for them. However, there are times that we need to be discerning in whether it is time to withdraw when we are proclaiming or delivering the message or trying to persuade others concerning it. It really depends on the situation in which the mockery and persecution is happening. Do you have a specific situation in mind, or could you perhaps give an example of a situation in which you would want to know how to respond?
Hi @Matthew. Thanks for that question. It’s a great one and a difficult one. Although I would say it’s probably a much easier question to answer intellectually rather than actually act out (as @kumquat mentioned).
I think one question to ask is what one is receiving persecution and mockery for. I have no idea where your particular question is coming from so that is not a judgement on you at all… but I have heard arguments to the effect that it is good to be persecuted so people go out of their way to be persecuted which isn’t always done in the best manner.
However, I assume you mean to ask in terms of being persecuted simply for believing, professing or acting as a follower of Jesus…
So first thing to say is that (as funny as it sounds) is that you are blessed:
Matt 5:10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I think we are to take heart that we are blessed in the name of Jesus. It seems a contradiction, but we should be joyful that we are persecuted because in the end all it will do is bring glory to God. 1 Peter 4 is one of the better summary chapters on this topic:
1 Pet 4:12-19 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
What do I take from this? If we are being persecuted as a direct result of talking and acting as a Christian then we should praise God. How should we react… v19 by continuing to do good.
This may look different in different circumstances… but the concept remains the same. In all things we must remain faithful to the Lord. This is “Love your enemies”, this is “as much as it is up to you, remain at peace with everybody”, this is “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse”.
As I say… can be easy to answer… hard to do though. I pray that God gives you both wisdom and patience in dealing with what it is you’re going through.
Great post! Thanks
Thank you all so very much. Atleast I can rest knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for us. All of your answers have helped me greatly. God bless you all.