14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
When Paul wrote this, the Jews were persecuting the Church. I’m not certain why they were so hostile. History has shown, though, that governments have been the primary Church oppressors. Islam has persecuted the Church severely in the past, and radicals still persecutes the Church.
How has the Church survived these 2000 years? God has preserved the Church on each Continent for His purposes. As regular as the sun rises each morning, persecution precedes church growth. I don’t understand and cannot explain it, but that seems to be the way God operates. Of course, out goal isn’t to become persecuted but to realize persecution isn’t, as they say, the end of the world. For some, it’s just the beginning of a new life.
Still, though, we who are not being persecuted should continue to pray for those who are being persecuted. Yes, their fellowships will grow, but there is a lot of hardship and terrible things that happen during that persecution. It’s not something we should take lightly.
North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and India are all nations that are extremely hostile towards fellow Believers. Take a few minutes today to lift up one of those nations and Believers within.