I doubt that any of you know this bit of history, because I know I did not, so I will share it with you. In an article I read on the internet this morning from the Colson Center, it mentioned on this day in A.D. 64 the great fire of Rome took place. This fire happened during the reign of Emperor Nero, a man who vehemently hated Christians. In fact, many believe the fire was started by Nero, or at least through his command. By the time the fire had finished doing its destruction Nero had already placed the blame on the Christians living there. It was certainly a way to cause the onset of great persecution on the Christian community.
This is an ongoing situation which has followed Christianity throughout the ages. Whether the persecution and mistreatment has come at the hands of other religious bodies, governments, or atheistic assailants, followers of Jesus have had to endure various assaults.
Jesus himself knew what it was like to be attacked physically, emotionally, and spiritually by others. The devil did everything he could do to bring harm to the Christ. The Pharisees used a variety of tactics in their attempts to destroy the person and work of Jesus. The Roman soldiers and their leadership did nothing to help Jesus, but instead went along with the persecution and death the Lord of Hosts was subjected to. Even Jesus’ own close friends abandoned Him when things got ugly!
Should you and me, as Christians in the 21st Century, believe things would be any different for us? Jesus said, “If they hate you, it is because they first hated me!” No servant should be treated above his Master, so if they persecuted Him are we to expect a different response? Definitely Not! And you and I can see just how that is playing out as we find ourselves being attacked by the media, various sectors of our American society, and other religious bodies, for standing up for the Word of God and Jesus Christ. Within our country there are those who are trying to eliminate any reference to Christianity in our nation’s history, a history founded on biblical teachings and the very name of Jesus.
Dear fellow saints, Jesus did not buckle under the pressure of persecution, and I pray you and I will not either. St. Paul, while speaking to the Romans, gives us encouragement in our life as we consider persecution and suffering, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Let us be among those who persevere in the name of our Savior! Pastor McCarty