The Gospel reading for this morning comes from Luke 21. It is a chapter where Jesus speaks about what will happen after he has risen and ascended to heaven. It deals with the destruction of the Temple, the signs that will precede the second the second coming and warnings about following false messiahs.
Jesus also encourages his disciples by saying that they will be persecuted?
I don’t know about you, but being persecuted does not seem to be a good way of getting people motivated to follow you, but God’s kingdom does not always work in the way we’d expect.
Over the centuries the Church has flourished under the most severe persecution and even today the fastest growing Churches are in countries where they are most persecuted. In certain places the mere fact that you call yourself a Christian could cost you your life, yet there are many people who are willing to and have died for their faith.
I have always been fascinated by people who have such confidence in Jesus that their own lives mean nothing to them. This is a foreign concept to me and probably to most of you as well. We live in a country where we can practice and proclaim our faith freely. But maybe that makes it more difficult to see persecution when it comes. Where Christians who are persecuted are bold in sharing their faith, not many of us are. We are scared of what people may think of us or we don’t want to offend anyone.
If we are truly followers of Jesus Christ, we will do what he did, even if the consequences are rejection, persecution and even death.