Standing With Christ
I recently read that there are more Christian martyrs today than there were in 100 A.D. Whether it was official or unofficial, many ruling authorities in those days had a policy of persecuting Christians. According to a study done at Regent University, there were close to 164,000 Christian's martyred around the world in 1999. You will not hear their stories in the media. If it were not for Christians who make it their work to pass on stories of persecuted Christians around the world, we would never know how difficult it is for some Christians.
This should come as no surprise to us. We must never forget that we are not of this world. Jesus said,
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world ... the world hates you. ... If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you..." (Jn 15:18-20).
The Apostle Peter wrote,
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. ... if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name" (1 Pet 4:12-16).
This attitude is what led so many to face their martyrdom with courage and dignity. Consider this account of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a minister who was martyred for clinging to his faith even though it was not in line with the Nazi program in Germany. The following account comes from the prison doctor at Flossenburg who witnessed his death.
"Through the half-open door, I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor, praying fervently to his God. I was deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain God heard his prayer. At the place of execution he again said a short prayer, and them climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued in a few seconds. In almost 50 years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God."
Being ridiculed, insulted, marginalized, or persecuted due to your faith does not mean you are doing anything wrong. Satan would have us shrink back in our faith and keep it neatly tucked away in our churches. However, we need to remember that we are the church, and our faith goes where the church goes, which means it goes where we go. It is God's will that we, the church, continue to be the church when we leave the building. In this way we become a blessing to our family, friends, neighbors, and community. We truly are the light of the world, helping lead others out of darkness. We truly are the salt of the earth, preserving what is good.