Bless your Persecutor - Romans 12:14-16

In September 2010 Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death after a court of appeals found him guilty of leaving Islam. He had been in prison since October 2009.
At an appeal hearing in June, the Supreme Court of Iran upheld Nadarkhani’s sentence but asked the court in Rasht to determine if he was a practicing Muslim before his conversion. The court declared that Nadarkhani was not a practicing Muslim before his conversion, but that he was still guilty of apostasy due to his Muslim ancestry. Thankfully Yousef was freed this past week after 3 years, and multiple threats of capital punishment. He though freed still refuses to recant his love and devotion to Christ. (This refusal may land Yousef back in jail…)

If we really are the Gospel Community and we live the Gospel in the Community,
then the question of persecution is not ifbut when.(Matt. 10:16-25; 2 Tim. 3:12) Fighting off persecution is fruitless, and in fact would tarnish our representation of Christ. Therefore, how we respond to persecution will be how our enemies remember us.

Here in Romans 12 we the Gospel Community are called to “Bless those who persecute us.” Blessing has many implications for our lives. We are to always have a good word about them. We are to Ask God to do good to them. Jesusthought was that we were to seek out the good of other people, even our enemies. The issue is not just to bless (action), but also to want to bless them (attitude).

So you might be asking, “Mario how can I possibly bless those who persecute me?” First off I’ll have you know that I struggle daily with this in my own life. Therefore, my response is several things that my Pastor Landon Dowden taught me.

1.     Believe that as we live the Gospel not everyone will like it.
2.     Dont be caught off guard.
3.     Determine now to respond with blessing rather than cursing.
4.     Rely fully on Christ.
5.     Set our eyes on Jesus

If we are to love others rightly, we must meditate on the cross constantly. (Matt. 27:39-44; Luke 23:34)

Lastly, Remember that we too were once enemies of Christ. Someone loved us enough to share the Gospel with us, so share all aspects of the Gospel at all times! 

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