Persecution of Christians in Today’s World
by Dr. David Jeremiah
Many believe that worldwide persecution of Christians today is worse than at any time in history. Each month, 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 church buildings and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 forms of violence are committed against individual Christians or Christian groups. Those figures add up to more than fifteen thousand incidents of serious persecution of Christians per year.1
The top ten persecuting countries are North Korea, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, and Libya.2 Given the history and present state of Christian persecution worldwide, it becomes less surprising that we are beginning to feel the sting of it in the United States. To have a nation established on and aligned with Christian principles has been the exception historically. That alignment is now breaking down, and we are reverting to the historical norm.
The Side Effects of Christian Persecution
How should Christians in the United States react to persecution? The first response might naturally be anger. But the New Testament gives us a more constructive response. The first Christians suffered persecution much more severe than anything we presently face, and we never find them responding in anger. In fact, they found positive benefits in suffering.
Paul told the Philippian church, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29). Note the way he put it: “it has been granted to you.” He made suffering sound like a gift. Suffering is a gift? Really? The natural impulse is to say we’d like to return it and settle for a necktie or headscarf instead. But to reject suffering is to miss out on enormous blessings. Let’s explore a few of those highlighted in Is This The End.
Suffering Promotes Character
Although persecution is inflicted by enemies of God, He can use it as a form of discipline to mold us into greater Christlikeness. As Paul told us, “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
The key to standing firm in the face of persecution is to remember whom we belong to and where we are going. We belong to Christ, and He secures us in His hand. Thus we need not fear danger to our reputations, our jobs, our finances, or even our physical lives. As He said, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
1“Christian Persecution,” Open Doors, accessed June 18, 2016
2“World Watch List,” Open Doors, accessed June 22, 2016
Taken from Is This The End: Signs of God’s Providence in a Disturbing New World by Dr. David Jeremiah. Copyright © 2016 David P. Jeremiah, Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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