"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."Typically I've thought about this verse when thinking about non-Christians attacking me about my faith - which actually happens far less than I've feared.
However, this verse is surrounded by commands on how to relate to other members of Christ's body... interesting.
Was Paul talking about persecution in the early church - by other members in the church?
We know that Christians have persecuted each other throughout history. We get passionate about our beliefs, and don't like it when others disagree with us.
So this passage reminds me to be prepared to be attacked for my beliefs. The attack may come from outside Christ's church... but just as likely from within. My response either way needs to be one of love.
Romans 12:9-16 (NIV)
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Responding to persecution with love is not my natural response. I'll need to die to self, and let God reign.