Persecution is not a new concept, nor is it one that can be ignored. The Christian news media outlets are full of stories of persecution, killings, and other acts of cruelty against Christians. Let me say from the outset I realize that Persecution is happening around the world of different religious groups as well.
Emperor Nero of Roman blamed the believers of “The Way” those followers of Christ, as they were known throughout the First Century A.D., their belief in the teaching of Christ undermines the very fabric of the society. Throughout history Kings, dictators, and even individuals have been involved in persecution. Yes, even Christians themselves have been involved in some of the greatest persecution of other believers, we can go back to the Spanish Inquisition, where the Catholic Church persecuted those fellow believers that where not a part of the church as they deemed it.
Persecution can take on many forms; the simple definition in my mind is “simply stopping one from believing what they believe, either by force or threat of force.” I remember back in 1974 while attending McKinley Junior High School a teacher found some Gospel Tracts that fell out of my pocket in class. I have never seen a teacher so enraged by a simple piece of paper, he didn’t ask whose they were he simply waved them around and said “Don’t bring this trash into my classroom, and if you do I will have you kicked out of this school” I was 14 years old. When I told my parents they told me not to make waves and you better listen to him. Honestly, I felt persecuted by the teacher and definitely felt threaten. He would probably have totally freaked out if he knew I had a New Testament in my back Blue Jean pocket every day. However, my parents expressed the belief of many Christians of the time and even today, it not worth the fight, don’t make waves, and don’t buck authority. Now look at the public schools, and colleges Christians organization are banned from most campuses, teachers can’t even say they are a Christian in fear of losing their job, and if they see a child with a Bible they want him kicked out of school.
The Apostle Paul dealt with persecution; just like the other disciples in fact all of the original 11 (not including Judas who committed suicide) were persecuted. Ten where killed, and one was boiled in oil then exiled to an island for criminals. Persecution that the Apostles faced in the first century, and that Christians face today is a result of a state of fear, from those that don’t understand the believers in Christ. Atheistic countries like North Korea, China, Russia, and Muslim nations that outlaw Christian expression do so out of fear. Atheist would rather believe and force others to believe there is No God, than have individuals have a choice to expect or reject, just like Muslim nations they have come to the conclusion that their belief system is right and the others are wrong. As I stated before I know Christians have had their times of persecuting, and it was wrong then and it is wrong now.
God is righteous and just, he set his standard of values found within the Scripture (Bible). People that struggle to live up to those standards will become enraged when they are told they are wrong, or the statement that they are a sinner comes up. Persecution isn’t limited to governments, individuals can persecute as well by stopping people from practicing their faith. People have a right to beliefs, and I should have the same right to stand up and say that is not a Biblical view. It has become acceptable to criticize or demean a believer in Christ for his believing in these biblical principles, and stating them. To the point of destroying his career and his family, this is persecution.
Ironically, there is one interesting fact about persecution that folks often overlook … When individuals and nations rise up to Persecute the church and God’s people within in it, God shows HIM self-faithful, and lives are changed and hearts touched, and revival sweeps the land. You can tell Godly men NO, but Godly men will always worship HIM and share their faith despite the persecution. Simply, take a look around. Look at events throughout the Middle East, Africa, China, India, and yes even Russia where there are reports coming out daily of believers being hunted, put in prison, and killed for their faith. However, there are also reports that thousands of people trusting Christ around the world despite the threat of death and prison.
More than one individual has made a bold prediction that Christianity will come to pass (end), stop existing and it will be proven that Jesus does not exist. Sorry to report that those skeptics and persecutors are dead, and Christ is remained seated on the right hand of his Father is heaven.
I believe that America and the world are at the crossroads of history; the 21st Century is not going to determine the future of Christianity. However, the 21st Century is going to determine what it is going to look like around the world. There was a recent report that tens of thousands of folks trusted Christ as savior in one night service in India, and individuals in Africa are reporting the same results. Now individuals will question the accuracy of those numbers. However, what we can’t deny is despite the persecution around the world people still believe. The church in America is caving to the persecution of the liberal beliefs, and pressures from within to change it beliefs. However, we continue to see outpourings of God greatest and lives changed through a belief in Christ.
My view of the reality of Christianity and Persecution is simple …
Persecution is coming to the world like we have never seen. However, at the same moment Revival is coming to the world that will scare every atheist and non-believer to their very core. Some Christian believers will die; some will be injured, and some will be offended verbally. However, be certain of one thing Persecution is not a new concept, and throughout history God has always got the GLORY!