“As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them. And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations. When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
I saw this on a driveway the other day as I was taking a walk. I was struck by the contrasts between the paved area and the bricks underneath. I just thought it was a really unique combination of textures and imagery. This passage is a difficult one, but ties very much to this picture for me. Persecution (which I have never truly experienced) is something that often reveals what is ultimately underneath what is seen on the outside. I have read many accounts of people who have been persecuted for their faith and especially many martyrs and this is what is seen time and time again. When persecution occurs, the promise of this passage is often revealed – that the Holy Spirit will speak and will be present – a strength is evident, just like these bricks underneath the asphalt pavement.
As I write these words, however, I do think of the many in our world today who are persecuted for their faith. I think of the those in Iraq, Syria, and parts of Africa who are on the run for their lives because of the persecution faced. There are many others for whom persecution for their faith is a day-to-day reality. I have never been in that position and I cannot say what it would be to experience, but I do pray that a strength is found underneath in the midst of what people face because of who they follow.