This last week, two U.S. men visiting India were arrested and fined for violating their visas. What was this violation? They preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. August of 2023 in Watertown, WI, there was a young man arrested at a pride parade for speaking into his microphone and speaker system. What was he saying? He was reading Galatians 5. A gentleman on the streets of Reading, PA was arrested and charged with criminal disorderly conduct. Why? For holding a sign that said, “Jesus said to go and sin no more.” while quoting Bible verses.
If you have read the Acts of the Apostles, you will know that this is nothing new. Shortly after Jesus ascended into heaven in chapter 1, the Holy Spirit descends on the apostles in chapter 2, and they begin to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. By the beginning of chapter 4, Peter and John are arrested for preaching this message. By the middle of chapter 5, the apostles are arrested for preaching. Through chapter 6 & 7, Stephen is seized and murdered for doing signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. Saul turned Paul will be arrested along with Silas and almost all the apostles will die for the name of Jesus. All in all, we have to conclude that the message of Christ holds a power that evil cannot tolerate. We must ask ourselves, “If the apostles were persecuted for this message, why would it be any different for us? Why should we be surprised when people are persecuted for the name of Jesus?”
Jesus told the apostles something in John 15:20 that I believe should encourage us to start and continue to spread the gospel of Christ everywhere we go. He says to them “Remember the word that I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” If we preach the message of Jesus, we are preaching the same thing He preached. If Jesus was persecuted for His message, why wouldn’t the same thing happen to us when we speak it? What’s so encouraging is that if we speak the words Jesus spoke, people will keep those words. This encourages us to preach despite persecution because there will be those who hear and believe.
As we go out into the world this week, will we be surprised by the way we are treated as verbal Christians? Perhaps you’ve never been verbal about your beliefs for fear of persecution. If that is the case, do not fear for Jesus himself says that those who speak His message will be persecuted, but in the process may play a pivotal part in bringing a lost soul to God. The message of Christ is a powerful thing. Will you speak it out loud and be persecuted or keep it to yourself and “be safe?”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10