Is Your Faith Worth Suffering For?

If you look at the pew research center statistics from January, you discover that all over the world, there is a marked increase in the number of countries in the world reporting harassment of Christians.  In June of 2009, there were 96 countries reporting harassment.  Compare that to December 2012 where 119 countries were reporting persecution. (Pew Research Center, January 2014)

I must admit that I would prefer not be have some people treat me as if I just fell off the turnip truck because of my firm believe in following the resurrected Christ.  I would rather be looked on as intelligent and thoughtful because of my belief in Christ. However, another look at Acts 1:8 today may give us some insight as to why this may be.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [1]

The Holy Spirit will give them the “power” as he comes upon them. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit referred to in verse 5. My witnesses (mou martures]). Our word martyrs is this word for witnesses.

WITNESS, MARTYR, refers generally to something or someone that bears testimony to things seen, heard, transacted, or experienced. Bearing witness may also denote the content and/or the significance of the testimony. Additionally, a witness (testimony) may refer to facts about which a person is firmly convinced by faith and for which that person would willingly die. In this last sense such a person would be referred to as a martyr. The distinction between witness (marturion, marturia) and martyr (martus) consists only in the degree of their testimony, since both words are cognates of the same Greek verb meaning.[2]

It is perhaps in this last sense of a person firmly convinced by faith and for which that person would willingly die is the increase we are seeing in more nations persecuting Christians.  After all, the only thing necessary to stop the persecution of the Christians in these countries is that these people deny the faith and stop being firmly convinced of Christ’s resurrection.  Then, the persecution would in all likelihood stop.

One way or another, the fact that Jesus told his disciples that the natural outgrowth of their belief in him and his resurrection would be a testimony that may cause them personal suffering and possibly end their lives explains in part their willingness to wait until they were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit to be able to pull this off.

This brings us to our concluding thought:  If this is still true today (and I believe that it is), why do we chaff against the idea of us as Christians being singled out as weird and the media being biased toward Christians?  Let’s face it; it’s part of being a witness.  Anyone can hand out a piece of gospel literature, but only true believers are so firmly convinced of Christ’s resurrection that they are willing to suffer the consequences.  Let’s be full of the Holy Spirit!

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 1:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Laing, S. D. (2003). Witness, Martyr. In (C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler, Eds.)Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

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