Per-se-cute vb -cut-ed; -cut-ing : to pursue in such a way as to injure or afflict, especially to cause to suffer because of belief — persecution. (Merriam- Webster)
The story of Socrates illustrates persecution in an interesting display,
“Thus he had passed his life as a sort of missionary in detecting the pretended wisdom of mankind; and this occupation had quite absorbed him and taken him away both from public and private affairs…And hence bitter enmities had arisen; the professors of knowledge had revenged themselves by calling him a villainous corrupter of youth, and by repeating the commonplaces about atheism and materialism and sophistry, which are the stock-accusations against all philosophers when there is nothing else to be said of them.” (Apology)
Socrates was killed for “corrupting the youthful minds of Athens”, a considerable accusation that begs the question- who is really doing the corrupting? The educational system is presently under a series of relentless attacks for the minds of humanity as a whole.
Every apostle, aside from Judas, (those that witnessed Christ risen from the grave) was killed for professing the truth of the Gospel. Every single one. With so much blatant mockery of Christ, it is no surprise why many Christians do not see a need to take a firm, bold stance on the Gospel. It should be noted, Paul writes that the Gospel is foolishness to those whom are perishing. Since scripture tells us that the world will think it’s foolishness (making Christians appear to be fools) why would anyone want to risk being made fun of? It is an honest question that should be addressed- especially with so much disdain for the truth of God’s Word.
Many in academia consider it “academic suicide” to believe in Creationism, Intelligent Design, moral objectiveness, etc. In a relativistic society, why should we believe in something that is absolutely true? This will be a list of a few important points as to why it is important to hold to the foundational truth of God’s Word, as well as how to deal with persecution. The first two will deal with evangelism with the last two dealing with persecution. Note: the whole concept of persecution is not understood in the Western world as, necessarily, a physical persecution in the form of torture or systematic killing. I believe the examples listed provide guidance for whatever “form” of persecution you may think.
1. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14 KJV)
It is easy to think of oneself when confronted with difficult circumstances. Jesus did not have his mind occupied on himself and his trials, he was torpedoed by love for humanity. He told others the truth, never saying to himself, “geez I look like an idiot”. This is the difference between being “fleshly-minded” and “eternally-minded”. Jesus asks us to be focused on the Kingdom of Heaven, and not on what will pass away.
2. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)
The apostles devoted themselves to preaching the message of the Gospel. Now, this is in regards to those whom are not mature in Christ- the unbelievers. It is also noted here that in teaching those whom are unbelievers we use all wisdom; godly wisdom and human wisdom. As II Peter tells us to give an “apologia” or a “reason for the faith that is within us”, we must be prepared to answer various worldviews with the truth of God’s Word.
3. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV)
There is no denying that those whom are in the world will hate you for the message of the Gospel. It is considered foolishness to them, and that is simply how the carnal mind will perceive it. This verse is used to display the truth of persecution, and the next verse will be used to declare the reward and confident hope we have in salvation when we are persecuted:
4. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Matthew 5:11 KJV)
This should not be confused with simply doing something wrong! Again, Jesus was motivated by love not by the concept of martyrdom. Martyrdom is a result of living a life lead by the love of the truth of God.
If you find yourself in a position where you constantly have to defend your faith, BE ENCOURAGED! Do not blame God when you have to carry your cross, rejoice! Hone your ability to intelligently give a reason for the faith that is within, and form relationships with those whom persecute you! Pray without ceasing for those whom persecute you! Do not give up on those whom persecute you! Most importantly love your enemy and do not compromise the Gospel because of fear of what man will say!