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“‘You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.’”—Mark 13:9–13 NIV
In today’s passage, Jesus addresses the kind of persecution believers will endure. If we continue reading and look at Christian history, we see this prophecy not only came true within their generation, but it still holds true today. Most of the believers who endured this persecution did so with a courageous willingness that can be described in one word—sacrifice.
Sacrifice is my word for 2021, and it’s passages like this that inspired me to make it so. We can easily forget the sacrifice involved when truly following Jesus who once said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 NIV).
Although we live in a nation where intense persecutions are not as prevalent, we live in a world where a large portion of the Christian community does experience such persecution. It can be easy to feel guilty for getting caught up in our own seemingly small struggles, but though different and sometimes less extreme, the persecutions we endure in the Western world are still valid and must be fought in the same way—with prayer and the truth of God’s Word. Perhaps; however, we are missing the common denominators seen in this passage.
Before ascending, Jesus Himself said that we would be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. There is a calling on every Christ follower’s life to make this their mission wherever they are sent and placed by God!
This part of the passage is easily skimmed over, but in a world where 41.7% of the population, 3.24 billion people, are still unreached by the gospel, we have the responsibility to do something about it wherever we are (Joshuaproject.net).
Lastly, just like Jesus called us to be witnesses before ascending, He also prefaced that with the promised power of the Holy Spirit. Whatever situation we may find ourselves in, we can find strength, unity, and guidance from our Holy Spirit helper.
As we look to make sacrifice a habit in our lives, we should also look to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are sacrificing in ways we cannot even fathom. “Sacrifice” reminds us to daily take up our cross and follow Christ, whatever the cost. When we embrace it, sacrifice will truly become a defining characteristic of the church worldwide as we declare, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 NIV).
Pause: How have you avoided sacrificing for Jesus recently? What are you holding on to that can no longer be held in hand with your commitment to Christ?
Practice: Whatever you just pondered to the questions above, take a step to sacrifice that today. Whether it be your time or money, or even taking a step back from a relationship or activity, choose to put Jesus above that convenience or desire today and take intentional time to be with Him and pray for the global and persecuted church.
Pray: Dear Jesus, I am sorry for not being willing to always sacrifice for You. I want to be filled with the faith and courage to do so, but I know that it can only be by Your Holy Spirit. Today, I commit more time to spend with You and learn about You, and I also lift up those persecuted believers, my own brothers and sisters around the world, to You. Strengthen and draw nearer to them. I ask that You make me fall more in love with You every day Jesus so that my heart, alongside theirs, would truly proclaim, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.