I’ve never experienced persecution in any kind over my faith in Jesus but I am witnessing a new trend lately. And this persecution is happening far more frequently then most of us would like to believe. I’ve seen lots of posts on social media that ridicule Christians. I’ve heard the digs and nasty side comments from people in passing. And of late, some of these have been directed at me and toward my family. Until now, I have just ignored the commentary as being opinions of people who hold different beliefs than I. But …

I get that not everyone believes in the same God I do, and that is their choice to do so. But what makes it okay to attack another person’s faith??? I don’t think it’s ignorance. So, I ask — is it fear??? Is it being afraid of what one refuses to try to understand that causes people to be fearful and in turn puts someone on the attack???

Perhaps, conversely, it’s a bad experience with someone who professed to be a Christian but really weren’t?!?! I too have had experiences with people who claim to be Christian but are really just mean and nasty people. One of my vaguest memories is when I was very young and remember a woman we went to church with smacking me. I’m not sure why this memory emerges so vividly. Could it be because I touched something I shouldn’t have? Neutral Face There are other memories too — of a pastor telling me I prayed wrong, or the kid in Sunday school who told me I was going to hell for wearing pants. I remember my brother being teased in high school because he told anyone who would listen about Jesus.

Still, not everyone should be tarred with the same brush, because I have also experienced very good experiences with people who profess to be Christian, and try to live according to the teachings of Jesus.

This morning, I read Acts 4:1-22. It tells the story of Peter and John getting arrested. They had just healed a lame man who frequently sat at the gates of the temple (Acts 3:1-9) — in Jesus name. And everyone knew it. Obviously, some didn’t like it. So the latter had the two arrested. Peter and John weren’t sorry for using their God given gifts to restore the man’s body. In fact it just made them profess their faith in Jesus even more. Notably, this marks the beginning of their persecution.

Continuing, Acts 4:15-18 reads: “But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this Name.” And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the Name of Jesus.”

They recognized that this man was obviously healed. As background, the man had been born lame and unable to walk. But after his encounter with Peter and John, here he was dancing and praising Jesus. But they refused to acknowledge that he was healed because of Jesus (whom they thought by crucifying would just go away). Their mandate was to ensure no one else would find out. They wanted to shut Jesus out. Stop preaching in His Name. Of course, as we now know, they were going to fail on their mission but it did not stop them from trying.

Here we are two thousand years later and the same thing is happening all over again!!!!!!

Still, in the face of persecution, we need to become like Peter and John. They stood up for what they knew and believed, regardless of the threats against them. (Acts 4:19-20) Like Peter and John said to the authorities that desired to reign over them, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.”

Why? Because when one fully understands that this same Jesus whom they crucified is the King of kings and Lord of lords, Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the ending, one also realizes that Jesus is the ONLY Way, the Truth and the Life. And in that context, we can only speak the things we have seen and heard.

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