1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. Persecution is a natural part of being a Christian. The Bible says that all who live a godly life in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (see 2 Tim 3:12) Jesus tells us that godly people will be persecuted because the light they represent is an intrusion to the dark way people want to live. (see John 3:19-20) If a Christian has the audacity to speak up and say what is right and what is wrong, they are going to be persecuted.
Persecution comes in different forms according to our situation. For instance, a Christian student in school may be persecuted through the mocking, ridicule and even rejection by their friends and peers. A college student may be persecuted by a godless professor who does all they can to undermine their faith. A business man or woman may be persecuted by being passed over for a promotion or facing opposition from fellow employees. For many around the world, persecution means being arrested, tortured and even put to death.
Though none of us desires to be persecuted, we should not be surprised when it happens, nor should we always try to avoid it. The Bible tells us that rather than run, we should rejoice. Perhaps there is no greater service a Christian can give to their Savior than their willingness to suffer for His name.
Persecution is a natural part of being a Christian, however, we must make sure that what we call persecution is because of our godliness and not because of our hypocrisy. Peter writes – “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” One of the reasons Christianity is sometimes ridiculed and rejected in today’s culture is because sometimes those who profess to be a Christian do not live and act like a Christian. Recently I talked with a young man about his relationship with Christ. During our conversation he expressed to me his dislike for the hypocrisy he sometimes sees in Christianity. He could not understand how some people can do sinful things and then say they were a Christian and suddenly everything is ok. Having had this kind of discussion before, I understood that this was a part of his tactic to divert the attention away from himself and his need for Christ. Yet I also understand that there was some truthfulness to his reasoning. Jesus said – “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Matthew 5:13) Jesus said that if the salt loses its saltiness, it is useless.
Today there is an undercurrent within Christianity for the church to become more acceptable to our culture. Recently I heard of a church that advertised itself as a place where non-believers could- “Belong before they believe.” I once heard a prominent pastor of a mega-church say that he wanted their church to be a place where non-believers would feel completely comfortable. I have also heard of churches that want to stop using the title ‘church’ so that they might be less offensive to the world. I agree that the church should always be a place that welcomes anyone who desires to attend and that we should share our faith with ‘gentleness and respect’ (see 1 Peter 3:15) However, as the church, we must always remember who we are. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) As Tennessee Temple University used to identify itself, we must be – Distinctively Different. Rather than trying to be more like the world, I believe we should seek to be more like our Savior. I believe the one of the biggest reasons the world has lost its respect for Christianity is because they do not always see us acting like Christ.