Modern day persecution in America
Persecution has been around for a long time. Historically, Cain was the first murderer, and Abel was the first martyr. Why did Cain persecute Abel? “Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (1 Jn. 3:12)
The Jews’ legacy is one of persecution. Some of them suffered it; some caused it. Jesus reprimanded the instigating kind when he charged, “Therefore, I send you prophets and wise men and scribes … some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah …” (Matt. 23:34-35)
A “Who’s Who” list of the persecuted reveals that many immanent Bible personalities suffered at the maliciousness of evil men. Abel, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Stephen, Paul, the other apostles, and most of all, Jesus Christ, were persecuted.
In more modern times, those who protested the corruption of Roman Catholicism bore the severest kind of affliction, for which John Paul II offered proxy apologies in recent years.
Persecution has been faced in different ways. Refusing to recant, the three Hebrew youths were resigned to accept their execution, affirming their convictions with boldness and clarity to the end.
The Lord sometimes dealt with the persecuting opposition of the Pharisees and Sadducees by exposing their religious hypocrisy. Uniquely, they did not have the power to take his life, but he laid it down of himself.
Paul’s life demonstrates how persecution was handled differently. He fled from Damascus, was run out of Iconium, and quickly left Thessalonica. But he went back to Lystra, shortly after being stoned there, and resolutely headed for Jerusalem, although he knew that “imprisonment and afflictions await me.” (Acts 20:23) Paul responded to each persecuting situation based upon what was best for the success of the gospel — not out of interest for his personal comfort or safety. (Acts 20:20, 24)