Persecution and Discipleship
"You are not allowed to disturb the students."
"Get out of the campus!"
These words were not addressed to the underground church in China. Or to Christian missionaries in a Muslim nation like Saudi Arabia or Libya. They were words heard by a group of Korean Christians while visiting a Catholic university in the Philippines!
Based on the kind of treatment we received today, from the moment we touched the soil of Ateneo, it seemed like we're already frowned upon and guarded by the guards and one "dragon lady" while the rest of the students and others were smiling at us! Now, if I could only figure out how much of the Bible was hidden and repressed during the over 300-year Spanish occupation of the Philippines. We got some traces of it today!
Jesus warned His disciples that there will be some persecution when you believe and share His Gospel. During His time, persecution was done at the hands of religious leaders. Persecution experienced by the early Christians were in different forms, such as physical, psychological, and emotional attacks. Like the early Christians, many in restricted nations today face violent persecution.
While violent persecution still exists in certain restricted nations today, I thought it's rare in a "free country" such as the Philippines. Some kind of verbal violence was the attack of choice in "civilized" places like in a Catholic university I visited today with some visiting Korean Christians.
Everyone who wants to be a disciple of Jesus must accept that being persecuted may be part of the package along the faith journey. But we must remember that nothing, not even persecution, can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35,36). And also take note of Jesus' instruction: "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16)
It is not easy to be persecuted, but hard, even though it can be rich with joy. It's a joy for we're able to share in the burdens of Jesus for those He came to love and save.