If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.’ John 15:18-20 (ESV)
It is Monday afternoon as I sit in the sun and write this. I am reflecting on the weekend just past and all that’s taken place. It hasn’t been a weekend much different to any other but as I look back I remember how at each of our services of worship I walked into a dry warm church, at our prayer meeting I walked down the aisle of the church and into the vestry without anybody challenging me, at both our services I climbed the steps to the pulpit with no fear for my life and with the freedom to preach God’s Word and as I looked around the church each pew had a least one Bible sitting waiting to be picked up and studied. As I sit and write now I realise that my experience is very different to many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who face persecution for their faith. For too many they have no church building to call their own, some have to meet in secret, others that teach God’s Word do so knowing it could cost them their freedom, even their lives and for some they do not have the Bible in their own language or only have parts of the Scriptures. Yet with all the opposition and persecution they continue to meet, the church continues to grow and they continue to rest upon and trust in the Word of God. They realise what it is to be the people of God and that to live distinctively and follow Jesus means following the path that he walked as he experienced opposition and persecution yet wonderfully they see that it is all worth it for the Kingdom of God. How much this challenges us as we seek to be the people of God within our communities. Sadly apathy has become the enemy of the church in the West as we have become too comfortable so we must again ask: What makes us distinctive? What sets us apart? What are we known for as a fellowship? Is it our zeal for the Lord and the growth of the kingdom? Or do our priorities as a fellowship lie in other places? We pray that together and by the Lord’s leading that we would fan into flame a desire to reach the lost and the seeking in our community. Only as we focus outwardly will we achieve the commission Christ has called us too and together bring glory to God and His Kingdom. May the Lord equip, encourage and bless you in His service.