“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.”
Perhaps the most fitting response to this passage is simply to offer a brief prayer of thanksgiving for all those Christians who came before us and who suffered for their faith. It may very well be that Mark wrote this passage with some of his own community in mind, or it may be that his community was aware of other Christians who were suffering persecution because they confessed Christ.
It doesn’t end here, of course. Christians at various points across history have endured hardship, pain, and even death for their beliefs. And we should offer a prayer of thanksgiving for them as well.
Nor are Christians the only ones who have been persecuted for their beliefs. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Mormans, Atheists – many have suffered because they believe differently (or not at all) than the majority culture. And at times Christians have been the ones doing the persecuting. Perhaps, then, we should offer more prayers still, both prayers of confession for those times when Christians have persecuted some of God’s children for not believing as we do, and prayers of petition that God would grant us both boldness and humility in our faith.
Most of us will never experience the tribulation described in this passage. But we, also, will be called to confess. We will experience those moments where we sense an opportunity to pray for a colleague or to offer a word of encouragement from our faith to a stranger or to invite someone to church or simply to share our believe that God loves the person with whom we are talking. No, these aren’t moments of extreme trial, but they can be challenging. And so allow one more prayer: that we might confess our faith, love our neighbor, and trust the rest to the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Dear God, grant us grace, grant us confidence, grant us joy, grant us peace. Let us bear witness in word and deed to your mercy and love even as we give thanks for all those who have confessed your name before us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.