Devotional of the week: Strength in Persecution (1 in John 15-16 series)

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. John 15:18

Photo: "Londres: The ten Christian Martyrs in Westminster Abbey" by Zyllan Fotografía on Flickr

Photo: “Londres: The ten Christian Martyrs in Westminster Abbey,” Zyllan Fotografía, Flickr

If we come to Christ as a new convert, we often enjoy a lovely honeymoon period. So to hear these words of Jesus can be a shock and a surprise – is this what we signed up for?

Some background is helpful as we delve into our passage for the next weeks, which is John 15:18-16:4. Jesus and his friends have finished their last meal together, and Judas has left, intent on betrayal. Jesus and the now-eleven disciples make their way to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus will later be arrested. In what is called the Final Discourse, Jesus teaches the disciples and prays with them.

After telling his followers how to abide and live in him, Jesus says how they will suffer persecution because the world persecuted him first. We should not be surprised by this mistreatment, for the light of Jesus in us will make visible the evil in the world. Living for Christ might entail something seemingly trivial, such as opposing gambling at our local school. Or something more serious, such as not allowing a co-worker to fudge the truth. Or perhaps we may even be called to stand in solidarity with sisters and brothers around the world who are being tortured for their beliefs.

Whatever level of persecution we face, we know that Jesus through his Holy Spirit will give us strength. We can count on him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you suffered a horrific death so that I might live in freedom. Help me to live freely today, this week, this month, this year.

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