"If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you...And they will do all these things to you on account of my name." Jn 15: 20,21
The early church suffered greatly. After Judas' suicide, every apostle with the exception of John died as martyrs. Proclaiming the word was costly, not only for the apostles, but for many of the earliest disciples. Although only about half the Roman Emperors who ruled from the death of Jesus until the conversion of Constantine persecuted Christians, the persecutions that did happen very vicious and violent.
Unfortunately, although we don't often hear about this in the United States, and when we do we often ignore it, the violent persecution of Christians continues. Aid to the Church in Need, (ACN) an agency created to help those being persecuted for their faith, estimates that almost 200 million Christians around the world suffer persecution daily. In a paper presented to the U.N., the World Evangelical Foundation (WEF) reports that 160 million Christians are denied basic human rights simply because of their faith, and last year alone more than thirty Catholic missionaries were martyred. (Persecution 21st century)
But the persecution of which Jesus speaks is not just physical. In most places of the world, when Christians are willing to speak on behalf of and in the name of Jesus, they are warned not to get involved in politics and to confine their efforts to preaching the Gospel on Sunday in their churches. When some ignore this warning, they risk being attacked, not because of their politics, but because they dare to challenge the status quo, but the Gospel demands this risk and we fail to follow Jesus when we ignore it.
Today, pray for anyone being persecuted for their faith.
Have you ever been persecuted for your faith?