Avoid the Persecution Pitfall
When the Lord’s people are persecuted by other believers, the mission of the church suffers, but it is important to recognize some or our suffering can be self-imposed, or wrongly interpreted. The term “martyr complex” may be a convenient jab we use to tease people when they complain about being mistreated, but it still reflects a valid problem.
A complex involves a psychological tool people use in their lives for a variety of purposes, such as avoiding personal responsibility for one’s actions or denying the truth about one’s circumstances. Full-blown complexes can create serious issues in our lives, but lesser forms can be used by any of us to create a victim mentality.
After graduating from high school I worked at a bank to earn some income for college. The manager of the bank was a member of our church, so it wasn’t long before everyone knew I was a Christian. One employee told me she was glad I was there because it was hard being a Christian in the workplace, but the more time I spent around her the more I realized her problems had little to do with her faith. She constantly complained about her workload and had a bad habit of blaming other people for her mistakes. When the other employees held her accountable she accused them of attacking her because she was a Christian. I stayed as far away from her as possible because I was confident one day God was going to take her out of commission. With witnesses like her, who needs adversaries?
Certainly, we will face persecution as believers, even if it comes in the form of mild taunting and name calling. But just because someone disagrees with us or clashes with our personality doesn’t mean they are attacking our faith. Even if they are, their behavior may have more to do with challenges in their own lives than the convictions in ours.