Is Persecution an Essential Requirement for Christian Growth?

Persecution1The Christian Church by and large lauds, prays for, and financially support those who are being persecuted in the Name of Christ.  Countless web sites, ministries, books, and articles are produced, and rightly so, to draw attention to their plight.  Steve Green’s song, “The Faithful,” eloquently if not eerily describes their condition:

 In dark, filthy places, forsaken, forgotten

Our brothers and sisters are paying a price

They will not deny Him to purchase their freedom
For these are the faithful, the martyrs for Christ.

Twisted and broken, abandoned and beaten
Their bodies confined an unseen sacrifice
But deep in their spirits, they know perfect freedom
For they are the ones who’ve been set free by Christ

CHORUS

From under the altar the voices are crying,
“How long Lord, till you come judge the earth?”
But He’ll wrap and redeem them in robes of pure white
For the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
For the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

The deafening silence–their faithful refusal
To doubt or deny in the presence of men
They live by His promise before His own Father
That in His Kingdom, He’ll not deny them

 The line in the chorus, “For the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” come from Tertullian in 107 A.D. called Apologeticus or Apologeticum “The Apology.”  In that book Tertullian writes to the Roman governor who was trying to stamp out Christianity by making false accusations against its Christian citizens and persecuting (killing) them for it.  

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Paul did not see the suffering he and others endured as exceptional, but rather typical for anyone who wants to live a godly life.

With all of the above in mind, I have one multi-part question:

If persecution is a necessary component of any Christian life, then shouldn’t we be praying for and embracing it?  Should we seek it out?  Should we be thanking for God for it when it comes?  Should we be trying to avoid it?  

Be Sociable, Share!

    1. The questions you ask are answered clearly in Scripture. Jesus tells us to flee persecution (Matthew 10:23) while also telling us that the persecuted are blessed (Matthew 5:10-12). In Matthew 5:44 He tells us to pray, not for persecution, but for those who are persecuting us. Of course He promises that persecution is part of the Christian experience (John 15:20), while Paul is quite clear in 2 Timothy 3:12 where he says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

      The reaction of early believers to persecution was to flee it if possible (Acts 8:1, Acts 11:19) or to endure it (1 Corinthians 4:12, James 5:10). Since we are to give thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:19-20, Phillipians 4:4, Colossians 3:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:18), giving thanks for persecutions and trials is both right and proper and all the more so because persecution authenticates our belief and make us more like Jesus (Matthew 5:11-12, Acts 5:41, Romans 5:3, 2 Corinthians 12:10, Colossians 1:10-12, Colossians 1:24, 2 Timothy 2:10, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5, Hebrews 11:26, 12:7, 1 Peter 1:6-7, 2:20-21, 4:12-16).


    2. I agree with Laurie, and especially with Peter.

      We should not ask to be persecuted, that would be perverse. But when it comes we should deal with it as we deal with any other problem in life. We must pray for one another and pray for our enemies who persecute us. If we can escape persucution, then yes, we should do so. If we cannot escape it we must endure it.

      But whether we escape it or endure it, let’s do so confessing Jesus as Messiah and Lord and when we die (persecuted or not) let’s do so with his Spirit in our hearts and his name on our lips.

      In him we have the victory. HalleluYah and amen.


    3. Persecution can’t be necessary for growth (church growth or personal growth) as Acts 2:47 states that at that point:
      1. Followers of The Way enjoyed favour with all the people
      and
      2. They continued to grow daily

      In Acts 5 & 11 we do clearly see that persecution scatters the church which leads to it’s spreading like embers scattered over dry brush.

    Join The Conversation!