From yesterday: What is most interesting is, the first and last of these three causes come from within the faith community. Legalists are believers, as are those who reject prophets who tell them things they don’t want to hear. One might argue these are not true believers, or they would receive God’s truth with gladness. While it is true God’s people can believe the wrong things, I feel certain many who persecute their own brothers and sisters in Christ do so because they think they are protecting the kingdom from falsehood. After all, the Sanhedrin’s used the charge of blaspheme against God’s own Son. We shouldn’t be surprised when godly people do the same to others.
The persecution of God’s people by God’s people is only an unfortunate exclamation point to the much bigger problem found in our second cause: people who associate with Jesus will suffer. In my own lifetime I have witnessed two cultural transitions in the treatment of Christians. As a boy we thanked God we were not persecuted like believers in other countries, but a noticeable shift in the acceptance of the Christian message took place when the church became embroiled in the great moral debates as the second millennium came to a close. It became fashionable to attack Christian leaders, belittling everything from their evangelistic zeal to their insistence that the idea of “sin” still mattered. The scandalous behavior of some televangelist of the same era didn’t help matters. This was followed by a second transition in which it became popular to ridicule Jesus and the things God Word says about Him. Today Jesus is portrayed in ways that would have been considered blasphemous and slanderous by the majority of people just a generation ago. Jesus is now defamed for sport.
Some have said if our faith is really that strong, we shouldn’t worry about what people say about Jesus. While it is true we need to be careful we don’t become “unchristian” in our response to attacks on our faith, we must also recognize we are living in an environment that has become much more hostile to Christians.
This is what makes the internal kind of persecutions so disheartening. It is bad enough that following Christ now comes with tremendous societal baggage. But the fact His own people can’t refrain from persecuting one another over petty jealousies and disagreements makes one wonder where the greatest enemy lies.