I just read an article about the genocidal extermination of Christians in the Middle East. Consider a few excerpts…
Christians have been getting pushed out of the Middle East for some time now, but the attacks on them have recently become particularly ferocious. It’s enough to look at the bombing at a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, on New Year’s Day that left 23 dead, or the brutal siege on St. George Chaldean Church, a Catholic church in Baghdad that killed more than 50.
As the number of Christians falls drastically in the Middle East, Pontifex says, the radicals rejoice. “Extremist groups have made it clear that because of this change in numbers, they are getting close to achieving their objective, which is the wipeout of Christianity in some of its oldest heartlands.”
While Christians are hardest hit in the Mideast, that’s not the only region they’re feeling pressure, whether it be slighter forms of discrimination, or outright violence. Pontifex estimates that there are 30 or more countries where Christians suffer “very severely,” and that “in certain of those countries, that persecution is very endemic and very persistent and has as its objective an end to the Christian presence.”
This should not surprise us. Persecution is God’s will for believers. After all, Jesus said… “If they persecuted me they will persecute you.” What should cause us to wonder is when we aren’t persecuted AND what such a condition means. Actually when Christians are persecuted Jesus says THAT is the time to rejoice!
Christ said that his followers would be hated… persecuted… and some killed because of Him. The Spirit inspired Paul to write that both salvation and suffering were willed by God (Phil 1:29). What we should contemplate is how closely our experience as believers mirrors that which is predicted in the New Testament. Not only that, we should consider how to process that in light of our relationship to God.