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.