Friday, April 29, 2011

Persecution of the Early Church and in the Christian Life

The persecution that fell on the early church was extremely important to the church as a whole. Until the church began to feel this persecution they were living in a very happy tight nit community that was not doing as it was told by Jesus in the beginning of Acts. “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” (Acts 8:1b ESV) While those persecuting the Christians in that region thought they may destroy them, they only helped in spreading the gospel. Polhill says, “They were scattered like one scatters seed. But scattered seed grow, and the irony is that the persecution and scattering of the Christians only led to their further increase.”[1] So like the evil planned against Joseph, this evil will bring about an ultimate good by pushing the gospel out into the world.

One of the signs to show that we are Christians is the persecution we face especially in today’s society. I say that because of the very words Christ says, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” (John 15:20 ESV) So yes, persecution for a Christian should be normal and expected. We should learn to look at our persecution as a tool for the gospel. John MacArthur has said, “Paul said that he gloried in infirmity, tribulation, necessity, even in persecution, because when he was persecuted, people got saved, and that is good.”[2] When we are not looked at as one of the in crowd because we are Christian that is a form of persecution and we should count ourselves blessed. And if we are not being persecuted because of our faith, are we sharing it enough so people know where we stand?

[1] John B. Polhill. Acts. (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1992)211.

[2]John MacArthur. (Found: God's Will. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 1977) 51.

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