John began to explain, “I really try to be a good Christian. I try to speak out when I sense that something isn’t right at work or at home. I attempt to share my faith in Christ when the opportunities arise. I try to approach life with an open mind, but often I feel that the world is in total conflict with my values and sense of right and wrong. I am often criticized by my friends, coworkers and even some of my own family. I just feel that I’m always being stepped on and walked on for attempting to live as I feel that God would want me to.”
Have you ever experienced the feeling that people want to walk all over you because of moral and ethical positions you have taken? Have you sensed personal persecution because of who you are and what you stand for?
Psalm129 speaks to this issue. The Jewish people had returned from captivity in Babylon. There were enemies surrounding them on all sides and they were under constant persecution by these people.
Psalm 129 speaks of the Jews having a sense of being walked on. The psalmist is quite graphic when describing his persecutors: “Often they have attacked me from my youth … the plowers plowed on my back; they made their furrows long.” Is this how you feel sometimes?
We must learn that persecution is to be expected by those whose desire is to follow God and his purposes. The Jewish people have suffered greatly for millennia. Christians have suffered greatly since Jesus ascended to His Father. Persecution of the Church and the people of God is to be understood as a fact of life for the believer.
The Apostle Paul reaches out to Timothy and instructs him as follows, “Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived, But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed…” (2 Timothy 3:12-14, NRSV).
The last verse in Psalm 129 teaches us that even while those who persecute us will not bless us, the believer is still to say to the persecutor, “We bless you in the name of the LORD!” One of Jesus’ promises in His Sermon on the Mount was, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10, NRSV).
- Clifford Vendt
Wardsboro Yoked Parish and their pastor Peter Carlson
United Church of Warner
The courage for our churches to step out with confidence and engage the culture.