When reviewing an article from a few years ago on the debate about building a mosque at the 9-11 Ground Zero site, I noticed that the writer referred to those who opposed the mosque as Islamophobes, ignorant, bigots, racists, haters, and Christians. This made me wonder when the term Christian had become an insult.
That led me to consider the lives of the first Christians in the early church. It seems that “Christian” was originally a label of derision and eventually became a criminal charge punishable by death.
We’ve all heard about the horrendous treatment of those first martyrs; how they were used as human torches to illuminate the emperor’s nighttime revels. While I can’t imagine our recent cultural shifts leading to anything so extreme, I have to wonder just where things are heading.
As Christians we are told to rejoice and be glad when we are persecuted in Christ’s name.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:10
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.James 1:2-3
Most Christians in the Western world have never suffered real persecution. I certainly haven’t. There have been times I’ve felt annoyed at the way we are portrayed in the media as either wild-eyed fundamentalists or low-IQ buffoons. But annoyance isn’t persecution. I’ve been angry when churches were attacked or shuttered during this on-going pandemic, but that perceived injustice doesn’t compare to early church persecution, either.
While I don’t advocate becoming an alarmist, and I trust God to see us through whatever lies ahead, I do think it behooves us all to gird ourselves with the fruits of the spirit in order to be prepared when the time comes…it could be soon.
Rejoice and be glad…there’s good times a-comin’
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:12