4 Things Christians Can Do In Persecution
Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.— Acts 11:19-26
So this is one of those summary statements in Acts where Luke will step back for a moment and give us a little larger picture of what's happening. Like anyone who is telling a story, he is going to zoom in on an important event and then zoom back out to give us a larger picture.
Here he reaches back to chapter seven and gives us a larger look at what happened after Stephen was killed. And this persecution launched evangelism northward from Jerusalem. Actually, north about 300 or more miles along the coastline into modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.
Here is why I love knowing this history. We learn that in Christian persecution, God gave them unique opportunities. Opportunities to advance the message of Jesus in new ways. And while persecution was still painful, it pushed Christians to innovate. drove new Christians out of their comfort zone. We watch as they speak more publically about their faith, find new ways to explain the message of truth, engage new people groups like the Greek-speaking non-Jews (Hellenists), and even invite radical new converts into their community like Saul, who formerly persecuted Christians.
I know a lot of us right now are very concerned about the direction the world is moving. Even how Christian beliefs are being dismissed, canceled, and attacked by people in media, entertainment, government, and education. But maybe, like Luke reminds us here, we need to see the opportunity. The opportunity to join with the great disciples of the past by:
- Speaking more publically about our faith. Maybe right now is the time for us to stop being so private about our faith like we have in the past. Maybe it's time for us to develop new courage and open our mouths about the things that others have shamed us for, for which we should not be ashamed.
- Finding new ways to explain our faith. Giving explanations for the truth in a time of twisted propaganda and blatant untruth, which we are being exposed to daily.
- Engaging new people groups. Right now, new people are flooding into our countries. I know right now there are hundreds of thousands of people from Afghanistan and Mexico flooding into the U.S., giving Christians a huge opportunity to reach unreached people right here at home.
- Praying for those who persecute us. In this text, that man was Saul. I believe God can still change the hearts of those who adamantly oppose us. And might even change them and use them as an influence for the advancement of the gospel. Just imagine how our world would be different if Kim Jung-Un professed a genuine belief in Jesus Christ? I mean, it could happen, right? It did with Saul. Maybe Jesus will show up for him and drop him to his knees!
So fellas, today I want you to change your mindset. I want you to see what Luke is showing us here. That persecution might be the best thing that's happened to us in a long time. Today reflect on this. And then consider which one of these four things you need to start doing a little more. Speaking more publically. Find new ways to explain your faith. Engaging new people groups. Praying for those who persecute you. And then do me a favor today. Share below which one has convicted you. And then, as always, share this devotional with someone else you know.
ASK THIS: Which point above are your convicted about?
DO THIS: Do it. Literally do something about this right now, before the conviction goes away. It does not matter how small the action is. It could be as simple as sharing a link to this post with someone else.
PRAY THIS: God, give me courage today to act. And together, may everyone who reads this devotional be convicted and called to act.
PLAY THIS: Sweet Conviction — Ronnie Mangrum.
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