Persecution: ready or not

During twentieth century America, our perception of Christian persecution limited the scope to foreign missionaries serving in communist countries. We read stories from Voice of the Martyrs that shivered our spines and made us thankful for our protective homeland. Paul’s admonition to Timothy “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” seemed awkwardly out-of-place in our respectfully tolerant society with freedom of religion guaranteed. Some warned that persecution loomed on the horizon—we were unconvinced.

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. We’re no longer debating America’s persecution of Christians. The handwriting on the wall needs no interpretation. In unbelief we’ve witnessed the Christian church cave to societal pressures to conform. New standards, once considered unthinkable, now prevail—even in many evangelical churches.

Christ-followers who speak up lose jobs, are publicly ostracized, investigated, and forced into sensitivity training. The land of the free and the home of the brave now bullies dissenters into silence and cowardice.

Can we just admit it? Persecution caught us unprepared—we weren’t ready.

The Scriptures provide an abundance of perspective and counsel for the times we live in. We have the words of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, Paul’s letters written during Nero’s persecution, and Jesus’ words,

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

And what advice can we find from our brothers and sisters around the world who have suffered persecution and martyrdom? How can we prepare to be a strong witness in such perilous times? And what will sustain us as the fire gets hotter? I answer for them without reservation, “Memorize Scripture, as much as you possibly can. It will prepare you, it will sustain you.”

If ever there was a time to memorize large chunks of God’s Word—it is now!

A few suggestions on specific books and passages that would be helpful to memorize:
Stephen’s defense: Acts 6:8 – 7:60
John chapters 13-17
1 Peter
2 Timothy

I’d love to hear from the community, which books and passages you would recommend specifically to prepare for persecution and to sustain us in persecution.

8 comments to Persecution: ready or not

  • Karen Burroughs

    It was this very thought that guided me toward Romans when I selected the first book I would memorize. I thought, “If I can manage to memorize just one book, it should be Romans. Since all doctrine is embedded there, I’ll be able to be the gospel to my cell mates!” 🙂

    But Hebrews, is actually my go-to book for strengthening my endurance and perseverance! “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement… Moses persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” It’s rich.

    Thanks for keeping us challenged, Janet!

  • Mickey Waite

    All books and or chapters of the Bible should be memorized, favorites are Colossians, Romans, Ephesians 6, 1&2 Peter,& Psalm 118. A Must read for all Christians on this subject, other than the Bible would be Safely Home, also Jesus Freaks,& Torturted for Christ. Thanks Janet for this post great topic.

  • Holly Steadman

    Janet–Thank you for writing this bold post. I praise God that you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church(es). We live in very certain times. They are increasingly fast forwarding to ultra-specific fulfillment of prophecy.
    3 most exciting times in which to live: 1-Eden. 2-When Jesus walked the earth in order to love, die, rise again and provide eternal salvation. 3-end times.
    God has chosen each of us for such a time as this is. Can we rejoice? Can we do it? Can we know He holds our eternity in His hand? And be willing–even if required, to die by the sword? And be willing to love not our lives even all the way to death? To pick up our cross and follow the One who showed us how to lay down life?
    I say YES. Even as my heart cries out to God Most High to help and make me willing.
    Texts to help in time of great need:
    Romans 8. Hebrews 11. Revelation 4 and 5 and 7:9-17. Jude :2-28. 2 Peter 3. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 5:1-11. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 and 2:13-17.
    I strongly believe that any and every verse will be as an anchor for the soul when persecution comes.
    It is never too late to start memorizing and know God more and (as you say) trade our thoughts for His.
    It is never too soon to begin to memorize in order to prepare for the evil that is rising.
    Our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
    And our weapons must not be either–they must “have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4
    My favorite memory Text is the book of Revelation.
    Thank you again for this post.

  • Barbara

    Janet, this is so pertinent to the times we live in and has been a motivator in spurring me to begin memorizing books of scripture. Having His word hidden in our hearts will sustain us through any affliction we may experience in this world. I am so very thankful that I heard of you and you invited me to join the blog. It is so encouraging and I am going to print out all these suggestions so I will have a list once I have finished memorizing 2nd Peter.

    Thank you,

  • Rosie

    This is the reason I started to be serious about memorizing scripture 3 years ago. I thought if they leave me with nothing, at least they cannot take the scripture that is stored in my soul. To my great delight I received many additional blessings, such as a deeper relationship with my Lord, a more profound understanding of His word, a new and deeper joy in my soul, as well as peace and spiritual growth that I had never experienced in my many years as a believer.

    Yes, the days are getting darker, but my security is in “the way” that the Lord has planned for me. I do not know what tomorrow holds but I have an obligation to walk with my father.

  • Phyllis

    So encouraging to read postings on this blog: no agenda but to know our Great God : just getting into Hebrews 9 this week – what a sweet journey this has been this year – what Jesus did for us – our great High priest that intercedes for us in the heavens – always and forever!! I love that phrase !! My heart filled with confidence reading comments today. Joy in the Journey!

    • oh Phyllis, that thrills me that the blog has been an encouragement to you. And Hebrews, wow! I rejoice with you on your journey. It is still a favorite of mine. So happy for you.