If the Gospel message is good news, then why do so many people treat Christians with contempt and hostility for their beliefs and practices? In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus warns his followers that they will be confronted with wickedness, false teaching, persecution, as well as the temptation to renounce their faith when it is put to the test.
The real enemy of the Gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - is Satan. Satan opposes God and all who follow his rule of peace and righteousness (moral goodness). Satan will use any means possible to turn people away from God. He tempts people through envy, deception, hatred, and fear to provoke hostility towards those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is Jesus' response to hostility and persecution? Love, forbearance, and forgiveness. Only the love which is rooted in God's great compassion and faithfulness - can overcome prejudice, hatred, and envy. God's love purifies our heart and mind of all that would divide and tear people apart. Knowing God as our compassionate Father and loving God's word of truth and righteousness is essential for overcoming evil. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear those who oppose us or treat us harshly for following the Lord Jesus. He promises to give us supernatural strength, wisdom, and courage as we take a stand for our faith and witness to the truth and love of Christ.
Jesus tells his disciples, and us, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives." Perseverance is an essential strength which God gives to those who put their trust in him. Perseverance is the patience which never gives up hope, never yields to despair or hatred. It is first and foremost a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to endure any trial or temptation. Perseverance is linked with godly hope - the supernatural assurance that we will see God face to face and inherit all the promises he has made. It is our joy and privilege to take up our cross each day to follow the Lord Jesus.
What will attract others to the truth and power of the Gospel? When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. God will give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith.
Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection
Are you ready to lay down your life for Christ and to bear witness to the joy and freedom of the Gospel?