Matthew 5:10-11 (ESV)
 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
In a world where having someone disagree with you is considered offensive, I’m not sure we understand these verses at all. The apostles laid their lives on the line to follow Jesus. Paul died in a Roman prison. Peter was crucified upside down because he did not believe that he was worthy of dying as his Lord did. Every Apostle had his life cut short for the gospel except for John, who was truly persecuted and then exiled to a small island alone. Men and women around the world are ostracized by their families, imprisoned, and killed for their faith. Is having to wear a mask to church really persecution? Is a Pride parade in your town really persecution? Is an internet meme or a letter to the newspaper about the evils of Christianity really persecution? I watched a television show the other day about some people racing around the world. They were in the African bush and in the crowded streets of India. Their concern was missing their eye cream and their makeup. Really!? Look around you! We have become so accustomed to and dependent on the things that bring us comfort that we have begun to think of them as necessities. Without them we must be persecuted. I’m sitting in a heated room with electricity, hot coffee, a Bible, a computer, and good internet access all provided at no cost from a Christian ministry allowing me to take a couple days for a planning retreat. At the same time there are brothers and sisters around the world shivering in the cold or hiding in fear, but grateful to have the opportunity to know God and worship him. I don’t feel guilty for what I have. I am incredibly thankful! But I am also aware that my Christian faith is not dependent on these comforts. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” I only pray that my faith will be as strong when I am called to face real persecution.