Day 208: July 27, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Luke 23:6-12
6 When Pilate heard this, he asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 Finding that He was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem during those days. 8 Herod was very glad to see Jesus; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because he had heard about Him and was hoping to see some miracle performed by Him. 9 So he kept asking Him questions, but Jesus did not answer him. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing Him. 11 Then Herod, with his soldiers, treated Him with contempt, mocked Him, dressed Him in a brilliant robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 That very day Herod and Pilate became friends. Previously, they had been hostile toward each other.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

Finding that He was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem during those days…That very day Herod and Pilate became friends. Previously, they had been hostile toward each other.
—Luke 23:7,12

United Against the Faith
by Paul Wilkinson, Member of Brentwood Baptist Campus

Jesus promised that persecution would find His people. He said, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matthew 5:10), and “You will be hated by all because of My name” (Matthew 10:22). Just as Herod and Pilate persecuted Jesus, so Christians in modern times are persecuted.

We should never cease praying for those who are forced to worship underground due to oppressive governments or who must endure guerrilla warfare from other faiths. We should speak out boldly against the murders of believers around the world. But with that said, I want to speak to a persecution that exists closer to home.

Notice that persecution multiplies rather than dissipates. First Pilate received Jesus, then he sent Jesus to Herod, who, after he was displeased with Jesus' disposition, sent Jesus back to Pilate. While those two are facilitating the mocking, interrogating, and punishing of Jesus, “the priests and scribes were standing there accusing Him vehemently” (verse 10).

Soldiers, religious leaders, secular leaders, and common people all sought to persecute Jesus and even became friends through hatred of their common enemy (verse 12)! Persecution has multiplied itself in our society similar to that of Jesus.

We don’t have to fear for our physical lives in most situations. But the boldly living Christian does suffer in society in many ways through: finances, career, reputation, and general emotional distress.

To claim an absolute truth in our modern era, a truth that’s universal in its nature and binding on all individuals, is the most severe of violations. To state that certain actions or lifestyle choices are immoral ignites shouts of intolerance, injustice, and bigotry.

To say that morals play a role in a child's development, or to claim that people are responsible for their own actions (blaming the victim in the modern vernacular), are first-degree social crimes. And with the movement toward speech crimes, may be federal crimes in the near future.

The Christian shouldn’t be surprised by these developments. When truth is rejected, God inevitably becomes relegated to being seen as an antiquated crutch needed by the morally inferior. As relativism grows, simple statements reflecting God's nature become indictments against the culture. Thus, the culture rebels to maintain its illusory justification to do whatever is right in its own eyes.

Christians aren’t called to avoid these persecutions by remaining silent or by privatizing their worship. We’re called to embrace and endure persecution for the glory of God. We can’t look at various outcomes and base our Christian practices on them.

For instance, if speaking out against gossip (Romans 1:29; 2 Corinthians 12:20) drives people out of the church, then we shouldn’t stop speaking out against gossip—because it’s a biblical teaching. Instead, we should pray for those who left, hoping they’ll repent and turn toward Jesus.

Instead of looking at consequences and outcomes, the Christian is called to remain obedient to the Scriptures and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Instead of looking outward for justification about what to do, the Christian is called to look inward to see if the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22-6) are present in his/her life. The Spirit offers peace to those in God's will: peace of spirit, not peace of life.

When we endure persecution by standing on the principles of the gospel, consider it a mark of our service to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:18-28), alongside the service of our brothers and sisters enduring greater physical pain than we are.

Expect persecution and expect it to be a united front against the truth of the gospel. Decide now where you stand and what you believe, so when that time comes, the Spirit will readily offer you the words and deeds necessary for the glorification and proclamation of Jesus (Luke 12:11-12).

The question isn’t whether we’re ready, for we’ll never be ready—not in knowledge, good deeds, or success.  Rather, the question is whether we’re willing. If we’re willing, then the Lord will make us ready and provide us with what to say and what to do.

When the enemies of the faith become friends for the sake of the destruction of the Gospel, let us stand firm as a church united. Jesus has already fought the fight and has already won the day (Matthew 16:18).

Reflection Questions

  1. Is there really a difference between willingness and readiness? If you think there’s, then study some of the characters of the Bible who God called for service (e.g. Paul, Gideon, Samson, David, etc.).
  2. What’s the proper response to persecution for the Christian?
  3. If we’re not being persecuted, should we be questioning our commitment to the faith?
  4. What steps can we take to better support the persecuted Christians of the world?

About the Author

Paul Wilkinson

Since March 2012, Paul has been a member of Brentwood Baptist. He’s currently enrolled as a PhD student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, majoring in Philosophy of Religion and minoring in Ethics, and serves as an intern with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. Ultimately, he’d like to minister within the local church, as well as teach and write on the collegiate level.

Paul is married to Shelly. In their free time, they enjoy spending time with their two dogs, watching movies, cooking, and traveling.