PERSECUTION and THE CHURCH

Persecutionvictims of religious persecution: oppression, victimization, maltreatment, ill-treatment, mistreatment, abuse, ill-usage, discrimination, tyranny

Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another individual or group. The most common forms are religious persecution, ethnic persecution and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms. The inflicting of suffering, harassment, isolation, imprisonment, internment, fear, or pain are all factors that may establish persecution, but not all suffering will necessarily establish persecution. The suffering experienced by the victim must be sufficiently severe  to be considered persecution.

Right now around the world there is a growing persecution of the Church and Jesus. There is a resurgence of hatred toward Israel and real Christianity. It is not  going to get  better!  We can pray against laws and governments and unrighteousness by those in power, but the truth is that Jesus says these things are going to happen! We may need to look at the Book and react accordingly. It is going to take a reformation in the Church and in our presentation of the Gospel to bring the truth to the lost in the world. We need to go back to God’s ways and His purpose and direct our attention to those.

Seeking and saving the lost and destroying the works of the enemy IN PEOPLE is the Church commission!! Our concern is not for Governments, though we are to pray for them. Our focus is to bring Jesus to the hurting, lost, lame and blind! Jesus never wanted fame, crowds, nor adoration as a man. He wanted to walk amongst the people and do good, healing and delivering! He has sent us to do the same!

In this age big meetings, buildings, congregations, proclamations and public displays of religious fervor are only going to paint a target on those present and reveal to the enemy whom he needs to destroy! Christianity in reality does not need a big name or a big meeting. It does not need schools nor any of the trappings we now think are essential. It needs anointing that breaks the yoke lived out in real life by all!. It does not need to be a display of arrogant proclamation. It needs God’s naturally supernatural love being expressed by Him through us, “stretching forth His hand to heal”, deliver and that signs and wonders become normal to all Christ followers.

The Church began in a place of religious persecution for any belief outside the accepted norm set up by the religious and political rulers of the time.  Jesus lived the change and the consequences of being the “Anointed One” who brought the truth, presence and Love of Father to bear on people! The Church was birthed because of His death by persecution. Jesus says, “if they persecuted me, they will persecute you”.  How did He respond to persecution? How did the early Church respond to persecution?

Jesus response was to heal, deliver, set free and speak the Truth about Father God in a real way to people. He did not fight governments nor their laws. He denounced them a few times but did not fight with them.  He went around doing good and walking in God’s anointing. He actually surrendered to them eventually and received their punishment for His rebellion to the leaders and their religious system.

So the Church age begins—what happens immediately? Holy Ghost power and anointing that heals, delivers and sets free those persecuted or cast out by the religious government was being exhibited ( Acts 2:4, 3:1, )  by uneducated disciples of Christ (Acts 4:13)- That was the beginning! What was the response? Persecution! The Church began in persecution! How did the disciples combat this unjust behavior of governments and religious factions coming against them?  [Bracketed text below are my notations]

(NKJV) Acts 4:18

So they (the religious political leaders) called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”  So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed. And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:

‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’

For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together — to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. [this says that God himself raised up people (rulers) to come against the reality of Christ and the church]

Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness!

The disciples prayed for — Healings, deliverances, prophetic happenings, and truth that had power to save the lost, lame and blind and destroy those who came against this truth. They did not pray for the government to be destroyed or laws to be changed,– they prayed for more anointing and power to heal, deliver and do signs and wonders! And the result was – the place was shaken. Then they went out and did the miracles! They brought the Gospel of  God’s supernatural love to more by being more!  

We need to expect that during these last times it is not going to be pretty. What is going on in Russia and other areas of the world is going to happen in the entire world…

The church needs to learn how to live with and for Jesus and with persecution; and still spread like a fire. That is going to take a revolution and a reformation in the body of Christ. We must get back to the beginning and build with this foundation, a house that cannot be destroyed because it is simple a house of prayer – a life lived in the presence of Jesus and under the direction of Holy Spirit, revealing God, not just talking about Him and being nice. We are to be like Jesus!

All through the New Testament we see that normal life in Christ was filled with God’s miraculous presence and persecution. No leader or believer seemed exempt. And most Christianity seemed to be practiced in houses or at least not in the city squares loudly (there were exceptions of course and those practicing these exceptions suffered persecution). They met in hiding as everyone outside the “followers of the way” seemed against them.  Until the 3rd century they were turning the world upside down while being persecuted and killed.

Interesting times – it seems God has not changed His tactics—raising up leaders and countries against Jesus, expecting believers to be true to Him – even to death! He may be forcing us back to the truth of needing the reality of His love to present itself in healings, and signs and wonders being done In Jesus name to attest that we are from God! WE MAY NEED HIS ANOINTING TO BREAK THE YOKE AND TO BRING OUR FOCUS BACK TO PEOPLE AND NOT GOVERNMENTS!  We may need to become more like Jesus, exhibiting God’s presence in us!

In Father’s Hand,

neil

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