Friends, can I give you a little bit of a word of testimony here? I have been a Christian leader/Pastor, in some way shape or form, since about 1991. That’s about 28 years.
I reckon it has really only been in the last 3 or 4 years that I have genuinely accepted the fact that following Christ will result in weekly or even daily persecution. In the past I intellectually had an expectation to get persecuted for standing up for Christ … but when the persecution actually did come my way e.g. through antagonistic family, Facebook or agro people at church … I was really surprised by it. In my head I expected persecution, but in my heart I did not expect it. There was a disconnect.
Some older wiser Christians gave me some tips which really helped. I took their advice and created the an “ABC of handling persecution for Christ”:
A – Ask Questions in outreach conversations that get heated …
Arthur: “I can’t believe how ignorant you Christians are … the way you believe in a great spaghetti monster in the sky”
Christian: “Do you have a different world view to Christians?”
Arthur: “Yeah, of course I do?”
Christian: “What do you think is the main problem that the citizens of planet earth have to solve?” …
Arthur: “There are heaps of problems to solve … Christians being one of them.”
Christian: “I agree that there are a lot of problems. Can I buy you a coffee at Gloria Jeans and find out more about your world view?” … “I’d like to hear more of what you have to say … your thoughts on …” … “What is a human being?” … “What is the problem?” … “What is the solution?” … “How will it all turn out in the end?”
B – Budget for conflict …
When you pray the night before the next day, ask God to help you have the energy and the grace to handle whatever persecution comes your way the next day – expect it. Budget for it.
C – Be Calm when persecution comes …
1. Remember 2 Timothy 3:12, “Whoever wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” If you are being persecuted, don’t panic, but rather think to yourself, “Mmmm, this is encouraging … maybe I did something godly, maybe I did something right that caused this person to react.”
2. Take on the persona of an Ambassador (2 Cor 5:20) – imitate Julie Bishop’s behaviour when she was the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Turnbull Government. She had to deliver very difficult messages from the Prime Minister to other politicians, e.g. she delivered Malcolm Turnbull’s anger and disquiet to Vladimir Putin in response to the shooting down of MH17 over the Ukraine.