BE YE THANKFUL: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” I-Timothy 1:12-13 THANK YOU JESUS FOR GIVING ME A SECOND CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT…………..“and a persecutor, and injurious”
PERSECUTOR: anyone who persistently or systematically oppress, harass or punish an individual or group in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically, to cause to suffer because of one’s belief, religion, race or gender.
The Bible begins with an account of the persecution of the righteous by the unrighteous: “And Cain talked with Abel his brother, and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Genesis 4:8) Persecution is not new to believers, Christians or Christianity, it has been around a long time. This acceptance of the high cost of righteousness was inherited by Christianity.
Jesus repeatedly warned of persecution, even within households, and urged “armed” preparation for it, promising the Spirit’s assistance at judicial examinations. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12) Far greater men and women than you and I have been persecuted because of their beliefs, why should we expect better treatment than they from an equally evil, sinful and confrontational world?
The conversion of the arch-persecutor Saul of Tarsus, later to be known as Paul, marked a resounding victory over oppression. Paul’s attitude to persecution was one of “regretful remembrance” of his own persecuting days and ways. He (Paul) deliberately accepted the risks in obedience to Christ; continuously warned that tribulation is inseparable from discipleship, and gave assurance that in every form of tribulation Christians are more than conquerors. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Romans 8:35-37
Persecution takes on many forms and does great harm, contrary to popular belief, you cannot be a persecutor and not injure someone or something. Should we look at 1-Timothy 1:12 as a process, blasphemy would be Step One and persecution Step Two, two steps that leads a person down the road of eternal damnation. Regretful remembrance is repentance, Jesus commands that we repent and be forgiven, allowing a change of direction on a path of personal spiritual-destruction and separation from the mercy, grace and love of God.
Ironically, the Bible ends, much the same as it began, with the theme of the persecution of the people of God. “And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” Revelation 6:9-11 These dear souls cried with a loud voice, asking how long would it be before they were avenged? “And it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” The end of their season of rest is near…..Be blessed until the blessed called you blessed.
Grady Norman Greene–Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ
- Adventurous Theology: Transforming Paul (Bruce Epperly) (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
- Outside The Camp: With Jesus in The Risky, Dangerous and Dirty Places. (outsidecampers.wordpress.com)