"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..." 2 Timothy 3.12
Let's be clear, the Bible does not tell us that Christians must court trouble. We won't need to. Following Jesus brings us hard up against injustice, militant atheism, intolerant alternative belief systems... Being salt and light in a dark and decaying world involves tension at the very least. The good news is that Christians and churches come into their own when our backs are against the wall.
I was reminded of this at last night's online prayer event marking the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, hosted by Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release International and Open Doors. We heard reports from India, Nigeria and Eritrea and prayed for our suffering sisters and brothers in each. There was a special feature on Afghanistan and the evening was concluded by the Celtic Blessing sung by Afghan believers as an expression of gratitude for our remembering of them. Imagine!
A common theme at these events, which I always find encouraging, is the absence of bitterness and self-pity and indeed the evidence of grace and flourishing - of individuals and the churches to which they belong. Behind the headlines and despite appearances, God is working a miracle. Hallelujah!