Do not be surprised, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13, NASB)
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Peter 4: 12-15, NIV)
Jesus' candid statements prepare us for the reality that as believers, we will face opposition. We should be prepared to share in Christ's suffering and be persecuted for the sake of His name.
Around the world, over 360 million Christians face persecution because they bear the name of Christ. That’s one in seven Christians worldwide. They share in His sufferings because they live in places where social and cultural pressure to follow other religions is significant, where government restrictions and bias against His followers exists, and where violence against the Christian faith is common. Christians remain the most persecuted group of people in the world today. In Canada, we enjoy religious liberty, albeit with growing signs of discrimination in some contexts. While advocating for religious freedom globally we are not surprised by discrimination, persecution or even martyrdom; Jesus told us to expect it.
What is amazing is the incredible growth of the churchin spite ofoppression, and the willingness and courage of many believers who risk their lives to share the message of hope with their friends, families and neighbours. The kingdom is advancing!