Rising above persecution

FROM the time of Christ Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, Herod, fearful of a threat to his kingship, wanted to kill him. When Jesus started to preach, his own townspeople doubted and rejected him. How could the carpenter's son, they reasoned, be the Messiah? They too wanted to kill him. And when his teaching and healing brought him into conflict with the Pharisees, they began a persecution of Jesus that culminated in his crucifixion. As the book of Isaiah foretold, ``He is despised and rejected of men.''1 During Jesus' life and since, persecutions have failed to harm the Christ, his divine nature.

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, contrasting Jesus and his persecutors, writes: ``Their imperfections and impurity felt the ever-present rebuke of his perfection and purity. Hence the world's hatred of the just and perfect Jesus, and the prophet's foresight of the reception error would give him.'' She says further, ``Herod and Pilate laid aside old feuds in order to unite in putting to shame and death the best man that ever trod the globe. To-day, as of old, error and evil again make common cause against the exponents of truth.''2

Jesus was persecuted for his goodness and spiritual power, and his followers, as they expressed the nature and purpose of Christ -- of the divine nature exemplified by Jesus -- found themselves persecuted too. Of his disciples and those who would endure similar attacks, Jesus said, ``Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.''3

What can we do if we are subject to attack today, as followers of Christ Jesus? A woman who went to work in a stockbrokers' office found that a fellow employee was very much against religion. He discovered that she kept a copy of the Bible and other religious books in her desk. Waving it in the air, he proceeded to decry the Bible, Jesus, and her religion in front of the rest of the staff. Then he flung the book down on the desk.

The woman was able to stop herself from reacting or arguing with the man. Instead she prayed about the problem and tried to understand why he had acted that way. She prayed to see that the spiritual qualities of love, understanding, and mercy exemplified by Jesus were also the true nature of this employee. She knew that the actual, spiritual selfhood of this man and of everyone is made in the likeness of God and could not therefore be derisive or hateful. Man, as the offspring of God, can express only the nature of his Father.

Later that day the man apologized for his actions, and after that there was no further opposition. The incident blessed her by giving her an even stronger conviction of the healing power and love of God. The other employees also spoke up in praise of the Bible and its usefulness to the world.

Christians can pray in support of a universal understanding of the true nature of Christ. This must surely be helpful to those holding vastly different religious beliefs as well as to those with no religion at all. We can realize with conviction that God, who is Truth itself, reveals the goodness and purity of His Son and that evil's misrepresentations are powerless to nullify the Christ-power in people's lives or to conceal the truth.

Because the Christ, so fully embodied by Jesus, still poses a threat to the materiality of the world today, persecution of Christ will continue. But misrepresentation cannot succeed, because it can never change the truth. Nor can discerning people, religiously minded or not, be made to believe what is untrue. As Jesus triumphed nearly two thousand years ago, so will God's Christ continue to triumph today.

1Isaiah 53:3. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 52. 3Matthew 5:11.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Romans 8:35,37

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