Why are Christ’s followers persecuted? posted by Yuen Woh Voon on Jan 20, 2012
Persecution is rampant all across the globe even as I write. From Africa to North Asia, from the Middle East to South East Asia, news keeps flowing out that followers of Christ are beaten, sexually abused, deprived of property, liberty, life and limb.
Persecuting people is hard work. Yet many persist in persecuting Christ’s followers until they are rid of them. Why?
In the days of the early church, Stephen was killed for his faith in Christ. Opposition arose from members of the religious establishment. They were threatened by Stephen’s ministry of “great wonders and miraculous signs” among the people (Acts 6:8). Many had responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The religious leaders tried to argue with Stephen but since they could not stand up to him, they conspired with others to accuse Stephen of blasphemy, a crime punishable by execution.
Jesus said that evil men loved darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil. Therefore they hate the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed (John 3:19-20). Since they feel threatened, evil men try to extinguish the light. It becomes a matter of self-preservation that they persecute Christ’s followers who bear of the light as they witness to Him.
Many years ago, one of our EE trainers earned an all-expense paid overseas vacation from his employer as the sales team at work of which he is a part, performed beyond expectation. But as soon as the team reached their holiday destination, many of his colleagues threw away all moral restrains and began to pleasure themselves with visits to brothels and massage parlors. Their spouses were not included in the holiday.
Almost immediately, the team put pressure on our EE trainer to join them in their immorality. He had to fight tooth and nail to resist their goading and threats. Why did not his colleagues just go and sin themselves and leave our EE trainer alone? Why did they have to persecute him?
Quite obvious isn’t it? If our EE trainer sins along with them, they can then say (or at least console themselves) “everyone does that.” By not joining them in their sinful ways, our EE trainer has condemned his colleagues. They feel threatened and rightly so. So they persecute him …
The Apostle Paul reminds his hearers: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12).” The Psalmist says the same thing: “For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart (Psalms 11:2).”
One sure way to avoid persecution is to stay in the safety of other Christians. However, doing that will mean that we have surrendered our responsibility and privilege to be witnesses for Christ. It is interesting to note that both the words “witness” and “martyr” come from the same root word in Greek (“martus”.)
Are you suffering persecution because you are living a godly life and following Christ? If so, rejoice, because great is your reward in heaven. All witnesses are persecuted.