Tuesday, November 08, 2005

# 107: Hatred, Persecution, & Hardship

In this section, I will attempt to explain the reasons Christians in the first century—and even the next few centuries—were hated and persecuted, why they endured hardships, and why it is not happening in America at the present. Before I do, I want to let you know for certain that I am not just making up or exaggerating the hatred and persecutions toward the early Christians. To prove that, I am going to quote all the New Testament verses that tell by whom and why the early Christians were treated in this vile way. This list will be quite long, but I thought it would be necessary so that one can clearly see how prevalent this sort of distasteful treatment was.

Acts 14:22. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

2nd Timothy 3:12. "In fact, EVERYONE who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus WILL be persecuted.” (emphasis added).

Hebrews 12:7. “Endure hardships as discipline; God is treating you as sons.”

Matthew 10:22-23. “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.”

Matthew 5:10-11. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

Matthew 24:9-10. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.”

Matthew 5:44. “But I tell you: love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you . . . .” Is that what George Bush and Dick Cheney are doing? Did they ever read the New Testament?

Mark 13:13 is identical to Matthew 10:22. “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Luke 6:22. ” Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:17-19. “All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.”

Luke 21:12. “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you.”

Luke 11:49. “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.”

John 7:7. “. . . but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” Since Jesus Christ is our example, should we also be testifying that what the world does is evil?

John 15:18-20. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. . . . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”

John 17:14. “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of this world any more than I am of this world.”

Acts 11:19. “Now those who have been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen . . . .”

Acts 12:1. “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.”

Romans 12:14. "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."

Romans 8:35. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or the sword?”

1st Corinthians 4:12. "When we are cursed, we bless: when we are persecuted, we endure it . . .”

2nd Corinthians 4:9. ". . . persecuted, but not abandoned . . .”

Galatians 5:11. “. . . why am I still being persecuted?"

1st Thessalonians 3:4. “In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.”

2nd Timothy 2:3. “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

2nd Timothy 4:5. “. . . endure hardship, do the work of and evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

Revelation 2:3. “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”

I could understand the early Christians, and more so today’s Christians, as to why none of them desire/d to be hated and persecuted. That type of treatment does not make one feel very nice. Nevertheless, there are at least three reasons for all that persecution, hatred and hardship: First, they were going against the norms of the times. And second, their lives of holiness and purity, along with their words, exposed the ungodly ways of those who thought they were the elect. And of course, hailing Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah infuriated the religious leaders.

Now the question remains: Are today’s organized churches actively doing that to the point where they are hated and persecuted? NO. They are loved and respected by the community, and you can see why. They stress tolerance and unity of all faiths, regardless of their protocol for living. But what is just as detestable in God’s sight is that most church-going people have accepted the blending of how they live with how the world lives, to the point that it is impossible to tell who is who. In fact, atheistic morals are many times higher than the morals of those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Who is responsible for this deplorable condition? Leaders of Christian churches all over the world are.

The vast majority of the laity are not aware of what is expected of them by the New Testament—that is the main reason for this blog. This ungodly condition did not come about overnight. It has been going on for decades, actually centuries. And I can tell you here and now that the majority of those who are reading this message will not or cannot live the way the Bible teaches because they truly believe that the way they’ve been living and what they’ve believed most (if not all) of their lives could not be a false/diluted form of Christianity. It is that difficult to change how one believes, and especially how one lives. Then, some might agree to/believe what the Bible says, but then go no further. All I can say is that the Christian religion in America, if not in the whole world, is in a sad situation, especially with the sex scandals in the Catholic Church. They are the ones that should be tortured, more so than murders or terrorists. How many lives have they forever ruined in the name of Jesus Christ? Furthermore, there will be very little, if any, noticeable change, even though a few will realize that what the New Testament teaches is to be obeyed to the letter. Those few who choose to obey are the ones who will endure hardships and be hated and persecuted, especially if they are adamant in how persuasive they are in letting religious people—including the clergy—know that they are either deceived or deceivers. Of course, one reason most don’t speak up for what they believe is because they don’t want to be looked on as religious fruitcakes. One thing to remember is that in the first century, it was the religious leaders that did the persecuting. Listen to John 16:2: “. . . in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” Will the truth of the Gospel message also enrage today’s religious leaders to the point that they will inflict harm on people like me? Many will say, “Things are different in the world today; therefore, what happened 2,000 years ago does not apply to modern Christians.” If that is the case, how much Scripture must we delete to make it compatible with our sinful modern ways? Here is another one that should be deleted. Read the 23rd chapter of Matthew, as it vividly tells that it was the religious leaders that Jesus gave a wicked tongue-lashing. Seems like religion, then and now, has/had the ability to bring out the best and the worst in people who have been entrusted with leadership.

Therefore, if Christians are not being hated and persecuted, it may be because they are living the way the vast majority of the clergy—over 300,000 in America alone—has been teaching them since who knows when. I can hear some thinking at this time, “Screw what you and the Bible say; the church I have been going to all my life is right, and I don’t need to and am not going to change.” It truly breaks my heart to know that millions are stuck in what they believe, with no easy way out. You can see what will be in store for me as I pursue—with all my energy and resources—what the Bible and I teach in this blog.

I realize more than most that the last thing Christians want to be told is that their lives are going in the wrong direction, and that to live life to the fullest, they need change. I can hear others thinking, “I am never getting on this blog again. What I want to hear is how lucky I am to live in the good-old USA and I have a chance to be however great my dreams will take me. And of course, I love being told what a wonderful and smart guy/gal I am.” Hey, I wish you the best. Just remember that air conditioners will be at a premium where you are/may be heading. Ha-ha.

I believe the most fortunate are those who believe there is a God, but have done little about it, and are not attached to any specific religious organization. It would be easier for them to put two and two together as to what it means to be a genuine Christian, without any strong preconceived ideas. That means even knowing that hatred, persecution, and hardships, most likely, will be waiting for them. If that is part of living the good life with God, and it is, so be it.

No matter who they are, if they are not aware of a need—a desperate need—for a better life, it most likely will not happen. Another sad and deceitful challenge we are up against is that this physical world keeps persuasively saying loud and clear, “No matter what your desires are, I can satisfy them all.” And when a person is satisfied with what this world offers, it is next to impossible for them to venture into the realm of God. That is another reason why the needy and not the wealthy are better candidates for life with God through Jesus Christ.

If you are a person who knows there must be a God, but haven’t let it influence your life, and you are irritated by church-going Christians that nag people like you to join their church, or are always slyly preaching how good they are and how sinful others must be, read this complete blog. You will have more than enough ammunition to silence and even possibly convert them to the truth of the whole Gospel message, and at the same time, maybe convert yourself. But make certain not to leave out that hardships will be waiting for them along with hatred and persecutions, especially if they/you are gung ho/enthusiastic in doing the work that Jesus Christ started. That is the genuine Christian’s solemn obligation to finish. God bless all who are/will be aiming for the heights of Jesus Christ.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Al,

How about reading comments from #106. waiting for the answer.

roland said...

For a really big story of religious persecution in America - see the movie The Work and The Glory now playing in theaters.

It is the true story of how so-called Christians persecuted a group of people from state to state to state and beyond during the Mid-1800's. Many hundreds from this group were killed or died from the following hardships.

Jay said...

Just found your site today. Went back and read some of the old stuff , found a lot of truth so far. This post you state the condition of organized religion is more on the leaders, but I place more blame on the people in the pews. When the leaders are wrong we are to see that wrong and to prove it by Gods word. #2 Why we are not persecuted ( to death)like Christians are in other countries? Gods mercy. He is waiting for us to wake up.. I’ll be reading.. Thanks