Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
When Paul called the Christians in Rome to bless those who persecuted them, he wasn’t speaking figuratively. Christians were accused by the Romans of being atheists and cannibals. Only a few years after Paul completed this letter to the Romans, the emperor Nero was feeding Christians to wild animals and burning them alive.
Few of us will ever face such severe persecution, but fellow Christians in countries around the world today face many kinds of trials for the sake of Christ. Some must worship in secret. Others are told to renounce Christ or die. Still others have their homes vandalized. Some lose their jobs; others even lose their lives.
The body of Christ is as intimate as two people united in prayer and as vast as all Christians around the globe. When we embrace the whole body of Christ—all Christians as one body—then those who do not face open persecution can stand with those who are persecuted. Some of our own loved ones face horrible trials. Some people come to faith in Christ knowing that if they are found out, they will be killed.
If you are facing open persecution for your faith, thank you for your faithfulness. If not, pray for those who do. Pray that God will sustain them, keep them faithful, and even grow his church in these severe circumstances.
Sustaining God, thank you that I am part of a body that spans the globe. Hold tightly my brothers and sisters in the faith who suffer for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
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