National Geographic recently published a feature article on the travels of the original apostles. While reading this intriguing exposition I was reminded how few of these courageous men died of natural causes. Jesus was clear with them prior to his crucifixion.
"I am sending you forth as sheep among wolves. (Matt. 10:16)
"Men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matt. 10:22)
"As the Father has sent me into the world - so am I sending you." (John 20:21)
From Asia Minor (Turkey), Rome, Greece and India the apostles were beheaded, crucified upside down, stoned and pierced with swords. By virtue of their allegiance to Christ and His Kingdom they were regarded as subversives in the cultures of their time.
I live in a city that is currently the home of 1,500 Christian congregations. We are part of the estimated 340,000 congregations in the United States. It may sound like a strange thing to say, but I can tell you there is no one in North Florida being crucified, beheaded or pierced with swords for Christ. I can also tell you that the Church is not seen as a subversive entity by the powers that control our state.
Don't get me wrong, I am not looking for persecution - but I do at the same time wonder why we are rarely if ever persecuted? Could it be that there is no real fundamental difference between our values and lifestyle compared with those of the pagan world system?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer envisioned the Church as a resistance movement in Germany. His advantage was similar to that of the early apostles - the enemy was clearly defined.
I have believed for some time that syncretism is our problem - the apostles did not have this problem as they traveled, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.
They were radical visionaries - mono focused on the Kingdom that to them was a present reality and a future hope. Persecution was inevitable, for they were no longer subservient to "the system." The subversive Savior was leading them in what C.S. Lewis referred to as a "great campaign of sabotage."
"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might
The Minority Gang