The Christian’s Head on the Culture’s Platter

When John the Baptist spoke out against King Herod’s personal life, it cost him his life. Speaking the truth rarely guarantees receiving the culture’s acceptance or approval.

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Persecution of the Early Church

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Jesus told His disciples that the world would hate them in the same way that the world hated Jesus (John 15:18), and He foretold of a time when people would kill His disciples and believe that they were doing a service to God (John 16:2).  Jesus never minimized the cost that those following Him would have to pay.  He clearly prepared them for the trials that would come with involving themselves with Christ’s cause.  While Jesus was on earth, His closest disciple, Peter, declared that he would follow Christ, even if all the other disciples would fall away (Matt. 26:33).  After Peter’s denial of Christ, the future of the Church’s leadership appeared unable to continue Christ’s work in Jesus’ absence.

Conversely, Peter proved to be a bold witness for Christ after Jesus’ resurrection.  In danger of imprisonment or death, Peter amazed the religious officials with his confidence in their midst, and they recognized Peter’s affiliation with Christ (Acts 4:13).  Before this instance, the religious leaders had also been amazed at Jesus’ theological presentations (John 7:15), since He had no apparent mentor.  Regardless of threats, Peter and the other disciples became insubordinate to the laws of the Jewish community, and they vowed to continue preaching in the name of Jesus (acts 4:19-20).  The religious leaders listened to the advice of Gamaliel the Elder, the tutor of Paul (Acts 22:3), and they decided that if this movement was not from God, the people adhering to Jesus’ teaching would eventually dissipate in the aftermath of Christ’s death.  The court punished Peter and the apostles with him, and the officials warned the disciples no longer to preach in Jesus’ name (Acts. 5:38-40).  Gamaliel and the other leaders trusted that God, and not themselves, would bring about an end to this current movement.

Martyrdom became routine for those holding to the Christian faith.

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