What do you hope for? Good relationships? A friend to come to know Jesus? A new perfume for Christmas? I hope for all of these things. And some other stuff.
And then there’s always the hope. The hope of things eternal, life lived forever in the presence of God.
This is the final part of our series from the book Jars of Clay, and it leads us to the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted Church. If you want to think and read more about our Change It Up series, you can get your own copy of Jars of Clay here.
Persecution magnifies hope: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) Paul, both the persecutor and the persecuted, wrote that. Some of us will know something of sufferings, of a life punctuated by hardship, uncertainty, sorrow. Our brothers and sisters in persecuted communities know of those sufferings alongside the constant suffering of being under pressure because of their faith. And when we understanding suffering, we understand hope: hope of things yet to come, glorious hope in glorious peace with our glorious King Jesus.
Hope makes sense of persecution: because we know that Jesus not only died to bear away our sins but that He also rose to start up something new with us, we know that there is a hope to come which is above and beyond all that is experienced in this life. “He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” (2 Corinthians 4:14). It’s this that motivated Paul as he preached in continuing hostility and aggravation at his message: the hope that he would be given the same eternal life as Jesus.
Hope brings joy where there is persecution: the Christian’s ultimate goal is eternal life with God and it is in that hope of eternal life that complete, untarnished joy is found. And it is in the experience of the persecuted that joy is found – for many it is when their church is destroyed, or their livelihood ruined, or their family member killed, that the deep joy that surpasses all earthly goodness remains. When all is lost but Jesus and eternity in Him, all joy is found in that hope.
If you wonder whether that can really be real, whether people really can be truly joyful in the face of real, constant, painful opposition, get involved with the persecuted and see for yourself. Learn from them, those who suffer for Jesus. Learn about the breadth and depth of God’s love, His grace that never runs out, His love that helps so many to live despite such horror. And honour those who suffer and yet bear your name – Christian.
Find out how you can be a Changemaker and commit to understanding the journey of faith that so many others like you, but not like you, make. Get involved with Release Potential, follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Like, share, tweet, repeat.
Find your way to honour your Christian family.