Those of us who live in the west, i.e. the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union, often miss seeing the persecution of Christians that exists in the world. In the 50 countries with the most persecution, 245 million Christians experienced high levels of persecution in the year ending November 1, 2018. In those 50 countries, 4,136 Christians were killed for their faith that year. 2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned. And 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.*
How much courage does it take to live for Jesus while facing persecution? The apostle Paul understood this question. He was imprisoned in Rome for his faith when he wrote Philippians 1:20-21, which says, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”(NIV)
For Paul, courage was a matter of priorities. His goal was not to live no matter what, but to exalt Christ, no matter what — “whether by life or by death.”
Do you need some courage to live for Jesus? Check your priorities. If you seek to exalt Christ with your life, then it will be easier to stand firm for him in spite of the pressures you face!
*Lindy Lowry, “Christian Persecution by the Numbers,” Open Doors, January 16, 2019, https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/christian-persecution-by-the-numbers/.
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.