In our everyday lives, we sometimes encounter situations where expressing our beliefs sets us apart or even puts us at odds with others around us. It’s a challenging experience that can make us wonder if we’re being persecuted for our faith. But it’s important to pause and really think about what persecution means, especially in the context of what Jesus experienced and taught.

Most commonly, what we will find is that we may be misunderstood for our beliefs, but we are not being persecuted. It is difficult to call anything that happens to Christians in the United States as “persecution.”

The Challenge of Being Different

Imagine you’re the only person in your group who thinks differently about a big issue. That can be tough, right? You might feel left out or even opposed just for having your own viewpoint. For those of us trying to live by what we believe, especially in matters of faith, these moments can be really trying. But it’s crucial to ask ourselves: Is this discomfort the same as the persecution we read about in historical accounts or even in other parts of the world today?

Jesus talked a lot about facing hard times. He warned his closest friends that they would face serious challenges because they followed his teachings. But the kind of trouble he was talking about involved more than just feeling out of sync with the people around you. He meant enduring real harm or aggression because you stand up for what he taught about caring for others, being honest, and living a life of genuine kindness and forgiveness.

Also, Jesus’ followers were persecuted for different reasons. Jesus’ followers went against the religious structures and institutions of their day and those institutions persecuted and even killed them. If you are able to sit in a church service and worship and your pastor isn’t speaking out against you or trying to shut you up for your beliefs, there’s a good chance you’re not being persecuted.

Recognizing the Real Deal

Before we jump to the conclusion that we’re being persecuted, it’s wise to step back and look at the situation. Are we facing serious consequences for our beliefs, or are we just feeling the sting of not fitting in? True persecution is severe and often life-threatening, a far cry from the everyday disagreements or misunderstandings we might experience.

So, what should we do when we feel like we’re on the receiving end of unfair treatment or criticism? The key is to respond with Christlike qualities: kindness, patience, and respect for others, even when they don’t see eye to eye with us. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek and to forgive others. He taught us to love our neighbors. He didn’t teach us to scream about our rights, throw tantrums, and persecute others.

When you are misunderstood for your beliefs, it is an opportunity to demonstrate your beliefs through your actions, especially in tough situations.

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