“The last century and a half have seen more converts, and more martyrs, than the first eighteen centuries combined.” (D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, Vol. 1 Jan 10 entry)
Let that soak in.
Don’t miss the significance of martyrdom and in particular the increase of martyrdom.
Why is this? Why are Christians harassed, tortured, and executed? Why are Christians hated with such vehemence?
Why, from its earliest conception, would Christianity face persecution?
Jesus told us this would happen, so we shouldn’t let it take us by surprise:
“You will be hated by all because of My name . . .” Matthew 10:22
All four gospels reiterate this same warning. You will be HATED because of your association with Me, because of your allegiance to Me, because of the side you stand on in this spiritual battle—for that expect hatred.
Hostility toward Christians comes from an expected source. Jesus told us that the thief’s mode of operation is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). We know the thief He was referring to. Not a physical enemy but one who has stood in opposition to God’s plan and His children since before the garden. That’s why he opposes us—because he is God’s enemy.
We are in a battle with the spiritual forces of evil . . . so conflict and hatred toward us should really come as no surprise.
Christian hostility is really a validation of Scripture. But what I want to focus on today, what I really want us to sit up and take notice of, is the fact that hostility against Christianity is also a validation of Christianity’s threat to the kingdom of darkness and the battle verifies God’s reality.
I mean think about it for a minute . . .
Does it even make sense that world powers, world rulers, dictators, and oppressive religions, would see Christianity as some kind of threat? I mean, they act like Christianophobes . . . like they are afraid of the power that Christianity might wield if let loose, so they see it as something to squash.
Christianity a threat?
That little batch of fisherman and faithful but beautifully fierce women—a threat?
A young schoolgirl sharing Christ—a threat?
Simple prayers lifted before sporting events—a threat?
Small groups meeting in homes to read Scripture and pray together—a threat?
Yes, a threat. A very real threat.
Christians are a threat because this God they serve is living and powerful and His enemy knows that He is no tame lion.
To the uninformed casual observer it seems irrational that a Roman emperor would see Christianity as a threat to his empire—but he did.
Christianity is a threat to the kingdom of darkness because it is a visible testimony, a witness really, to the reality of the God of Scripture. It is a threat for many other reasons (perhaps we’ll revisit that on another day) but one thing Christianity threatens to do, and one day what it will fully accomplish, is to expose the ruler of darkness for the fraud he is.
And so he makes war with the children of God.
But in demonstrating his hostility to God’s own possession (Christians), doesn’t he validate the very existence of the God whom he’s trying to convince the world as being non-existent?