Why Are You Persecuted?

As Christians, we expect to be persecuted. Our expectation for hardships in this life comes directly from the words of Jesus, who told us that people would hate us for his name’s sake (Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13, and John 15:21).

But not all hardship occurs because of Jesus’ name. Some hardships do come because of our faith in Christ, either directly or indirectly. Whether a direct result from the name of Christ or a proclamation of faith, or from the persecution that sometimes accompanies holding to a moral standard higher than one’s self, the Christian lifestyle is and should be filled with persecutions.

A persecution for Jesus’ name is not the same as a persecution endured by a Christian, however. If a Christian’s car is stolen it is likely not because they are a Christian, but perhaps because they drove a nice car, or were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is more accurately understood as a persecution for wealth than a persecution for the name of Christ. While it is possible that the thief took the car in order to harm or hurt the owner because of the owner’s Christianity, it seems unlikely. This flies in the face of some schools of thought that seem to blame every hardship on its members’ Christianity.

While we should never seek to be persecuted (for the one who seeks out hardship does not understand the joy found in Christ), we should consider the reasons we give people to persecute us. Many different beliefs and causes can put us in a position to be trod upon. Ideally, a Christian would be persecuted only the for the sake of Christ. The only way to achieve this is to remove from our lives the aspects which could be hated on or used against us, if possible. If someone attacks me because I am a jerk, it hardly qualifies as persecution.

This does not mean wavering on morality or ignoring Scriptural teachings concerning hot-button issues like abortion, homosexuality, or anything of the sort. What it does mean is that we are to hold strong in such a people can only hate what is good in us; it must be their twisted understanding of the world that sees us, rather than our twisted actions or beliefs.

To be blameless is a high and lofty goal, but if someone is blameless and persecuted for his or her faith, there is no doubt concerning the truth of that faith. Christ suffered greatly after living a blameless life, and this persecution that he endured is analogous to what we will endure. If we are being persecuted for something we brought on ourselves (wrongs we have committed, for example), we are not sharing in Christ’s suffering.

Blamelessness is not a prerequisite for being persecuted for the name of Christ. But persecution for the name of Christ arises most purely when our suffering is most similar to Christ’s suffering.

Seek blamelessness. Jesus himself said that we should seek to be perfect like his father is perfect.

Image via Flickr.

Published by

J.F. Arnold

James received his MA in Philosophy of Religion at Talbot School of Theology in 2013. He holds a BA in Biblical Studies from Biola University, and is a graduate and perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute. James blogs on a number of subjects, including technology, theology, and hip-hop. He has written for Biola’s Center for Christianity, Culture, & the Arts, The Gospel Coalition, and he is an editor for Mere Orthodoxy. You can also keep up with him on Twitter (@jamesfarnold).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Carson/827047747 Joseph Carson

    I think you miss the basic point of why God created mankind – it was nnot just to proclaim Christ is Lord – and the corresponding moral truth that being “persecuted for righteouness sake” is part and parcel of the moral universe God created – why else did Christ have to suffer on behalf of others?
    “Righteousness” is much broader concept than simply proclaiming Christ is Lord. The privileged Christians who read this blog will likely have opportunites to be persecuted for righteousness sake in various aspects of our common lives, particularly including in their vocations. But that is “radioactive” to say to privileged Christians, who consider themselves privileged from experiencing such persecution, one reason there is so much garden variety suffering (structural poverty, institutional corruption and its impacts, crime, etc) in world.

  • jamesfarnold

    “”Righteousness” is much broader concept than simply proclaiming Christ is Lord.”

    Absolutely. I wouldn’t argue with that for a moment.

    My point, however, is simply that we are quick to assume we are being persecuted for our faith when we are not. When people don’t like us because we are bad people, or they fire us because we are bad at our jobs, that is not persecution. That was my primary point.

  • Tom the Babtist.

    This article has absolutely no credibility considering all of the anti-Mormon ministries ran by Evangelicals. Persecuting Mormons is seemingly why most Evangelicals exist. We should embrace a mormons as our brethren in Christ. They can help us defeat evil. All of you who didn’t vote for Romney are hypocrites. I could care less that he is a Mormon. He could have appointed Supreme Court justices that could have overturned roe v wade and other pernicious evils.

  • Jerry

    Many claim to be follows of Christ Jesus and are not. Sadly anyone can claim to be a Christian. I have not met a Mormon who would claims to be a Christian. I would suggest that instead of embracing Mormons as fellow believers Christians should treat them with Love in all things and seek to dialogue with them about faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Gavin

    Jerry, The real name of the Mormon church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Christ is the very center of their doctrine. As they claim, it was God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ who appeared to Joseph Smith. To say that they aren’t Christians is saying they don’t exist.