“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
–John 14:27 niv
Have you ever been persecuted for your faith?
The Bible guarantees persecution for the child of God and it can manifest itself in many different ways and in varying degrees. You may have been laughed at, ridiculed, or derided in some fashion but have you ever been persecuted to the point of being prohibited from practicing and professing your faith? What about to the point of physical harm or the threat of death?
Suppose armed gunmen burst through your church’s door demanding a halt to the worship service? What would be your response? Suppose the President declared it a capital offense to possess a Bible, pray a prayer, or speak a word of testimony to another person. How would you deal with that circumstance?
Indeed, it is incredible to think that these types of scenarios can actually happen today. We may not be able to conceive of these things occurring in America but we can let history of the past as well as prophecy of the future be a guide to our thinking. Persecution unto death has certainly been a fact of the past – at the founding of the Christian church in the first century, under Adolph Hitler in the early 20th century – and it has not been abolished in the present. Concerning the future, the Bible clearly states the coming of tribulations resulting in mass murders of people due to their faith.
While we cannot be insulated in our thinking about the past and the far distant future, we certainly should not be complacent concerning the present. More Christians have been killed for their faith in Jesus Christ in the last 100 years than the previous 1900 years combined. We should not find ourselves ignorant, indifferent, or silent about this persecution. Even today in some Muslim countries Christians are dragged out of the homes, hanged on gallows, stoned, beheaded, and crucified. Profession to follow Jesus Christ is illegal in some places around the world.
As Jesus talked to His disciples in John 14, the context shows that their world was about to fall apart. Jesus was headed for the cross. The betrayer, Judas Iscariot, had already left their company and was planning his dirty deed in the dark of night. As these remaining disciples gathered around Jesus He promised them a peace beyond compare. In all their encounters with the son of God they had witnessed an indescribable peace despite the demands of life or the threats from His enemies. This is the peace He promised them.
The Bible teaches that fearing man brings snares and trusting in mankind ends with destruction. Jesus promises His peace even in the midst of troubles and persecution and it is wholly different than the pretended peace offered by the world. Throughout history nations and peoples have talked about peace as they prepare for war. The world will never know peace because the world is under the direction of the enemy.
The peace Jesus gives passes all understanding and is the precious promise to a believer yielded to His Spirit. It is a promise for the here and now and forevermore. If you have peace with God take care that you keep the peace of God – both found only in Jesus Christ.