The Pressure of Persecution
The book of Revelation is mysterious and apocalyptic nature, but its primary purpose is to unveil who Jesus is and provide encouragement to followers of Jesus. The challenges faced by early Christians and their struggles serve as a source of inspiration for believers today.
In Revelation 2:8-11, Jesus addresses the church in Smyrna, a Christian community that faced persecution, from both Roman authorities and their Jewish counterparts. Despite their suffering and poverty, Jesus encourages them by acknowledging their faithfulness.
Jesus understands suffering, as he too experienced it. He praises the faith of such believers, highlighting that they may be materially poor but they are spiritually rich. In fact, they were the only church of the seven Jesus directly addressed in Revelation where he had nothing to criticize.
Did you know that more than 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith today? That’s 1 in 7 Christians worldwide. For more information, check out the website opendoors.org or vom.org.
Even here in the USA, faithful followers of Jesus will experience rejection, accusation, setbacks, and criticism, too. According to the scriptures, everyone who lives a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).
If you can relate to being persecuted in some way, even if it may not mean imprisonment or death – be encouraged and remain faithful: Jesus promises that you will “be given life as your victor’s crown.” Jesus promises his followers – those who remain faithful to him even unto death, will not be harmed by the “second death,” which is eternal separation from God.
Jesus, through his suffering – his death and subsequent resurrection from the dead, gives us a way to be made right with God no matter what we’ve done. Our salvation is not determined by our own good works but by the good works Jesus has done for us. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ as our savior and lord of our lives, we can experience the supernatural filling of the Holy Spirit that empowers us to live the life that Jesus did.
Consider the way Jesus offers as the path to true life, even in the midst of suffering and persecution.