Thoughts for the Day

Saturday, 4th May 2024: Measure the world against Love

John 15 Persecution Love

Reading : Verses from John, Chapter 15


‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


I am grateful that most of us who are Christians don't have to face persecution for our faith, but there are many countries where Christians are severely persecuted for following Jesus. In the last official count (2023) according to the 'World Watch List' over 13 Christians were killed worldwide every day because of their faith, 40 churches were attacked, 12 people were unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and 5 Christians were abducted. Despite this, numbers of Christians in the top 50 worst countries is growing, up to 309 million from 250 million the previous year, and another 31 million could be added from those countries who fall just outside the top 50 countries, like Cuba, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates. This means that 1 in 8 Christians across the world is facing persecution. In 2021 the worst country was Nigeria where 3,530 Christians were killed for their faith. The latest report shows that attacks and forced closures of churches around the world amounted to 9,488, of which 5,576 were in China alone.

Churches and their worshippers in the west are not usually subject to this kind of persecution, but I am not sure we should be pleased about this. Jesus says if we belong to the world the world would love us. Well the world, that is society, do not really love us, but on the other hand they do not hate us. Rather they treat us as unimportant or at worst they ridicule us. The clergy for instance, are portrayed in the media as elderly buffoons or weak, limp hand-shaking men, and occasionally as female comedy characters.

Two things emerge from this. First, we Christians are not supposed to be "the same as the world". We should be measuring ourselves against God's gold standard, that of Love, and asking ourselves "What would Jesus do?" Second, if we were doing our job as Christians, properly - if we were measuring every action in society through the lense of love and speaking out where society falls down - we should be disliked, but at least we would be doing God's word.


Lord Jesus,
help us to measure our lives
against Yours,
and to ask ourselves
how would you have acted.
May we also help to set
a gold standard for others -
with love rather than judgement.
If we find others disagree with us
may we react with humility and love,
and keep the gold standard
set by You.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to look a the World Watch List for 2024 - click on different countries in the world to see what is happening to Christians in that country:

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