CHRISTIANS PERSECUTED ‘IN MORE WAYS THAN EVER BEFORE’

The story of Jesus Christ raising Lazarus from the dead is one of the most dramatic in the New Testament. Yet, almost as amazing as bringing a man back to life after four days in the grave is the authorities’ reaction to this astonishing miracle: It made them want to kill Jesus.

This cosmic irony – of genuine godliness inspiring loathing and violence – has been reflected throughout the world ever since. Christianity inspired hostility from the beginning; not only was Jesus crucified, but 11 of the 12 apostles were martyred. Today, sincere followers of Jesus Christ are under attack everywhere, not only in lands dominated by religions and governments hostile to Christianity, but increasingly in those parts of the world historically home to, and founded by, Christians.

Think of it. The most transcendent way of life a man or woman can embrace on this earth – one that commands not only that you love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself, but that you love your enemies, “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” – is cursed, hated and persecuted.

This persecution shows up in a broad spectrum of ways. In the United States it is, as a rule, far less overt and brutal than overseas, taking the form of censorship, demonization and criminalization – for example, the never-ending prosecutions of Christian businesses and individuals (including the jailing of a Christian county clerk) for being unwilling to actively participate in homosexual weddings. Then there are the ubiquitous assaults on Christian expression in the public square and within our public schools and armed forces, and the ongoing destruction of Christian memorials, crosses, nativity scenes and the like, and even the recent equating of Christianity with white supremacism and the open mockery of prayer.

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