Jesus warned us that we would face persecution as his followers. If you’re genuinely following Jesus, then you’ve likely already experienced it. And while it may not feel good while it’s happening, persecution is actually a good sign: It indicates that you’re “over the target” and making headway for the Kingdom.
Regardless of the form that persecution takes, you’re always to respond to it as Jesus taught us: praying for your persecutors and blessing them. You are NEVER to report the persecution to an authority, including law enforcement, and you are NEVER to try to get revenge on your persecutor. Instead, you’re to put your personal feelings aside and be kind and courteous.
I knew a woman who was mercilessly persecuted for decades, but not once did she speak an unkind word either to or about her persecutors. On the contrary, she always found some reason to praise and encourage them. The kinder she was to her persecutors, the crueler they were to her, but she never swayed from her approach. To her dying breath, she continued to bless and pray for those who hated and persecuted her. Of all the people I know, she is the only one I know for sure made it home.
Blessing someone while they’re abusing you for your beliefs is one of the most difficult things in the world to do, and you will not succeed at it without relying on God for help. Persecution is a test to see how well you’ve learned the lesson about not being offended by anything. Very few people can stand quiet and motionless while being beaten and spat on, but Jesus did. We’re also expected to do the same under similar circumstances.
My grandmother used to say: “The proof is in the pudding.” We can claim to be born-again followers of Jesus, but if we respond to persecution by pushing back at our enemies instead of blessing and praying for them, then we’re not as Christian as we claim to be. I don’t say this to discourage you but to remind you (and to remind myself) what is expected of us in the world. Being a born-again believer has enormous privileges as well as enormous responsibilities, including being the one designated to stop the cycle of violence.
One of the best ways to successfully handle persecution is to remind yourself that God is in control. If he permits you to be persecuted, he is testing you. Go to him for help, like you would a trusted teacher. God is the only one who’s going to get you through the attack. Remember that Jesus never did anything without first asking for God’s help. Asking for help from God was his default and it should be ours as well.
Long story short – don’t fight back against persecution and don’t report it to any authority: ENDURE IT. It is meant for your strengthening. Also, those persecuting you need your intervening prayers, which are not going to be of any value (that is, God won’t hear them) if at the same time you’re confronting your persecutors, beating them, reporting them, suing them, or having them arrested. Even telling other people what someone did to you will nullify any good that might have come from it. Keep it between you, your persecutors, and God.
Persecution is a given as a follower of Jesus. We are told to be offended in nothing, so don’t be offended by persecution. If we are being persecuted, it’s because we’re over the target and making great strides for the Kingdom. Rejoice at that. Don’t complain about persecution or try to eradicate it – REJOICE!