It was a great day @ The Ridge today! Today is the International Day Of Prayer for the persecuted church. Little did we realize when we planned our current series months ago, that we would be ending our GameChanger series on the Beatitudes with the final two of Jesus Beatitude statements on this day…
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
It was a God thing that today wound up being the day that we would be studying about believers and persecution. We did a very unique set up for our worship gathering. We intentionally created a stripped down worship experience. There were no graphics on the screen. We made the room very small and intimate, using pipe and drape. Two single lightbulbs hung from overhead and some candles in the corners. (see the photo). The band did a three song acoustic set of simple hymn arrangements. It was a very tight and, for some, uncomfortable setting, because it was somewhat crowded…intentionally. We tried to create an environment that was more like what most believers in the world worship in. Persecuted Christians all over the world worship in secret, for fear of their lives. Today, we wanted to give everyone a new awareness for the Persecuted church.
I taught on many scriptures today. There are several that supported our teaching on being a peacemaker and on being persecuted. Being a peacemaker means that we are given a ministry of helping others make peace with God through introducing them to the Prince of Peace. This ministry in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 is referred to as the ministry of reconciliation. We are to be Christ’s ambassadors. His representatives to carry the Gospel…if we aren’t, are we really peacemakers? This isn’t about making peace when people are in conflict, it is about being God’s instrument to bring peace in the ultimate conflict…the ultimate war…a spiritual war for the souls of men.
We are peacemakers, but we are or will be persecuted. In John 15:20-21, Jesus said…
20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.
Persecution and suffering is a certainty for the believer. It isn’t a question of if, but when. Persecution and suffering also prepare us for golry. God uses these times in our life to remove the impurities in us.
When we are persecuted or suffering, we are to rejoice…that we have been found worthy to suffer…that He is preparing us for glory…that God is building us up and developing us for His purposes. We follow Jesus example in responding to suffering in 1 Peter 2:18-25.
Finally we have a responsibility to those who are suffering. Hebrews 13:3 says that we are to suffer with those who suffer. We are part of ONE body. We should pray regularly for those who suffer.. Stay aware of our brothers and sisters who are suffering. Get involved. Here are some links to sites dedicated to praying for and supporting the persecuted church:
Here is a video from Open Doors highlighting the TopTen Watch List of countries where Christians are persecuted for 2010.
Take this day to be reminded of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering around the world. Stand in the gap in prayer for them. Not just today, but everyday.