Nehemiah and his fellow Jews had just begun to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem when the criticism began. Sanballat scoffed and said, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?” (Nehemiah 4:2 NLT).
There’s more than a hint of anti-Semitism in that statement. Even so, Nehemiah was determined to press on and do what God had called him to do.
It isn’t fun to be ridiculed, is it? It isn’t enjoyable to be laughed at. Look, for example, at the way Hollywood portrays Christians—the Hollywood that wants to set the moral standards for all of us to follow. They love to portray Christians as fools, buffoons, racists, misogynists . . . fill in the blank. In their minds, we Christians are everything that is wrong with the world—and don’t even start with the preachers. That is a form of persecution.
Yet Jesus said, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 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” (Matthew 5:11–12 NLT).
Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, it’s not such a happy thing when you are persecuted.” Yes, but understand it’s a confirmation that you’re a child of God. Just make sure that you’re persecuted for the right reason. Sometimes we’re persecuted for being mean, harsh, or some other thing. If you’re experiencing persecution, then make sure it’s for righteousness’ sake.