I believe its a safe statement to make that at some point in all our lives we either have, or will be falsely persecuted for something or some event. In past years such persecution took time, and more effort to plan out. Pre-internet days, in order for someone up to no good; wishing to dishonestly tarnish someones reputation they’d have to “work at it.” That involved spreading rumors, relying on “old school” media like the newspaper, and a whole lot of time. Today, we have this thing called “cyber bullying” and it’s become so rampant and vile that we have kids and adults literally taking their lives just to make the persecution stop. Wow, we have become one sick society.
So what is False Persecution? Well according to Wikipedia it is the systematic treatment of an individual or a group. I too have had more than my fair share of false persecution, on more than one occasion. Most of the time, the persecution we receive includes blatantly false statements. Those false statements are needed to “make the story more interesting.”
I’ve been persecuted and had numerous bare false witness against me more than once. It’s not fun, and I can not tell a lie, it can be painful when it’s unjust. So what are we to do?
Given that we all are highly likely to experience this at least once sometimes in our life it seems being prepared is only the best way to deal with this. I find the best way to learn about this topic is to look at someone who has endured incredible amounts of persecution and see how they managed to “get past” this. I know of NO ONE that experienced more persecution than Jesus himself. Jesus literally DIED on a cross, completely innocent of all charges against him, and yet, he gracefully went thru these traumatic events leading up too, and after these events and not once exhibited anger or hatred.
So using the story of Jesus, and persecution lets look at who was “most guilty” of the persecution, and the lies and deception he endured. Yes, they were his “enemies”, but they weren’t who one not knowing his story would think they were. Jesus endured the nastiest of persecution from people in his own “profession!” Isn’t that interesting?
The Pharisees used their considerable earthly influence to plot against, make lies, deceive and eventually murder Jesus in a horribly public and painful way. The Pharisees were suppose to be the “religious” leaders of the time and this is how they acted! But they were mere men. Men that did not have true hearts for what God called them to do, and had become more interested in power, money, and influence. Much of the persecution I’ve faced, and I bet you have or will face, is really much the same. It’s likely to be an “industry insider,” family, or a “friend.” These are people that know you fairly well and all the little things that make you tick and upset you. Going back to Jesus’s story, the Pharisees went after Jesus out of jealousy and anger. Jesus had done NOTHING to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were threatened by Jesus’ growing influence and followers. So considering Jesus’ story, and I believe fair to relate to our lives; most times when we endure persecution, it’s by those that are threatened by our growth or successes.
Prior to Jesus’ death, he endured public humiliation time and time again, deception among his own disciples, rejected in his hometown, physically beaten to the point that one could see bones and flesh was hanging from his body. All of it’s gruesome when you think about it. In contrast, the persecution I’ve endured, and most of us endure are literally the mere words of simple men (and women) So here, we have a true story of the accounts of Jesus’ life on earth, and yet, we can’t handle a few lies and mean words about us? I know for me, when I put it into a comparison like this, I tend to feel a little silly that I’m even bothered by such weak attempts to harm.
Almost always, like in Jesus’ story, the very start of the persecution we are faced with comes from jealousy or fear by those who persecute us. The Pharisees were jealous and fearful of the influence Jesus was gaining. In my own instances, past employers laughably and clearly are fearful and jealous of successes I’ve experienced. So who’s really winning here with this silly persecution we experience? The persecutor or the persecuted? Mathew 5:12 seems fitting: Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. So basically, you should give yourself a high five if you are falsely persecuted. It means your getting somewhere!
We must have sorrow for those that persecute us. When someone chooses to lie about our character, deceive others, and intentionally persecute us, they are in a very dark and ugly place. The Sermon on the Mount in Mathew 5:44-46 really fits well here. “But I say, love your enemies! PRAY for those that persecute you! In that way you’ll be acting as TRUE children of your Father in Heaven. ” Do you want to REALLY get under the skin of those persecuting you? I have a hint, show them the mercy Jesus showed his persecutors, and do it publicly. Pray for them! It’ll drive them berserk and eventually they’ll move on!
Sometimes, those that persecute us go to the extent of making up complete lies, and fabricate elaborate “stories” to gain emotional clout for their position. In internet world, there is literally a term for this. It’s called “click candy.” Click candy is exciting and outlandish statements that lure people in to read more. In this case, read more lies…. But there is something important to remember about those that lie or fabricate stories about us. They are GUILTY of violating the 9th commandment! “Thou shall not bare false witness against thy neighbor” This means, you are not to lie about your brother on earth. This is a big deal here folks! The 10 commandments are Gods rules, which we are to follow. This is not some “suggested speed limit” sign with a recommended way to travel down the road. So if one would lie against your name, imagine how much sin they carry around, and the future they have at the pearly gates if they don’t repent? They too will have their judgement day, and from where I sit, their judgement isn’t looking too fun. Remember that when the lies and deception of your persecutor gets under your skin!
Jesus said the worst sin we can carry is un-forgiveness. None of us know the day or hour we’ll be called to a beautiful life in heaven. Why risk carrying the anger, hatred and not forgiving those who have wronged you in this way? Do you enjoy gambling with your salvation? Forgive your enemy!!
Lastly, carry on with integrity, and attempting at all times to follow gods word. He WILL protect you to the extent you need protection. He might even be using your circumstances to teach you a valuable lesson on character building you too will share with someone else!