There’s one thing I often forget when it comes to Christian persecution. One thing that can easily slip my mind when I read about the senseless violence on Palm Sunday in Egypt, the calculated murder of Christians in Nigeria by an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria, the kidnapping of Pastor Koh in Malaysia, or the plan of radical Hindus in India to wipe out Christianity by 2021.
What is it that I forget?
Sometimes in the midst of the news and world events related to the violence or the marginalization against Christians, I forget that any and every act of persecution toward believers is really an attack on one person: Jesus Christ.
It’s easy for me to shift my focus to the tangible violence and oppression and forget that this is a deeply spiritual battle. Satan’s desire is to devour Christians and wipe out any and every representation of the King of Kings in our world.
When Jesus confronts Saul in Acts 9, He didn’t say, “Saul, why are you hurting these innocent people?” or “Saul, don’t you care about human rights?” No, when Jesus confronted one of the greatest persecutors of Christians at that time, He simply said, “Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
It all goes back to Jesus. We are His Body—the largest expression of the Son on earth. We’re attacked, ostracized, falsely accused, imprisoned—and even killed—by proxy of the name of Jesus.
That’s also why Jesus said, on more than one occasion, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of Me.”
In a recent conversation with a field worker in the Middle East, I asked if it would be easier for Christians in the region now that ISIS was kicked out. He said, “As long as there are Muslims who believe the Koran, Christians in that region will be persecuted.” He added,”It’s not just about ISIS, but a theology.” In other words, there’s something deeper below the surface—embedded in the fabric of the world—that stands against Jesus and against us, His sons and daughters.
I want to encourage you to pray for our brothers and sisters who face severe persecution… and to remember we’re all one in the Name of Jesus—the Name above all names.
Because from Saul to Syria, from Egypt to Eritrea, from Nigeria to North Korea—and every other region where persecution occurs—it’s always about Him.
And remember, as you pray for believers all over the world, your prayers are inching the Kingdom—and all of Creation—ever closer to the day we see in Revelation when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.