This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Video YouTube channel.
One of the most powerful moments in the Bible occurs when Mordecai appeals to his cousin Esther to save the Jewish people. Esther is the queen of Persia, but also secretly a Jew. Mordecai begs her to reveal her identity to the king, and ask for help in sparing her people. Esther wavers, and Mordecai delivers these famous words.
Esther 4:14 Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?
Esther resolves to go before the king and appeal for her people’s rescue. And God, without being named in the narrative, delivers her and the Jewish people.
This scene is one of many examples in the Bible of people taking a stand for God in the midst of persecution, mockery, and oppression. These examples teach us some important and unpopulars truths that Christians must recognize.
Oppression, Mockery, and Persecution Are Normal for Christians
For Christians in the Bible and throughout much of human history, persecution and oppression have been a reality. This isn’t a surprise. Jesus, in some of his most challenging words to his disciples, warned us about the reality of persecution.
John 15:18 If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.
Jesus experienced rejection on earth. He was rejected by religious leaders, the Roman government, and the powerful members of society. People didn’t like it as Jesus exposed their hypocrisy and demanded their repentance. So, they persecuted him, culminating in his crucifixion.
In some of his last moments with his disciples before the crucifixion, Jesus teaches us that the same hatred that Jesus experienced would eventually be directed to his followers. Christians are forced to stand up for God in the midst of a hostile world.
God Is with Us in the Midst of Oppression, Mockery, and Persecution
In another passage, Jesus warned his followers that they would face persecution from government, from those in power, and even from family. In the midst of these sufferings, Jesus promised:
Luke 21:15 For I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!
It’s scary to think that people will mock you for following Jesus, but you aren’t alone in those moments. The Spirit of Jesus is with you when people persecute you. His Spirit will give you words to say and the ability to express God’s truth.
Many Christians have found themselves in situations where people were hostile to their Christianity. They responded with wisdom and God’s truth, and they don’t know how they did it. They did it because God’s Spirit was empowering them and their words.
We Answer Persecution with Respect and the Gospel
Although Christians will face struggles, we are not permitted to retaliate against those who mock us. It’s tempting to attack someone who is attacking you. But God has a better plan for us.
1 Peter 3:15-16 And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear.
These verses teach us always to be ready to explain the message of Jesus and what he has done in our lives. As strange as it sounds, sometimes the moments when people mock you for believing in Jesus are the best moments to share the Gospel.
But you must do so with respect. Don’t let people reject your message because you are a harsh and mean-spirited person. Treat them with respect even if they don’t respect you.
God calls us to stand up for Christ in a hostile world. This isn’t easy or fun. But with God’s Spirit we can represent Christ in the most difficult situations.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- List some of the ways that Jesus was hated by the world.
- How will preparing to be mocked or persecuted for your faith help you to withstand it?
- Read Luke 21:15. What is the promise in this verse? What might this look like in your life?
- Read 1 Peter 3:15-16. How can you be ready to explain “your hope as a believer”?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.