If you read the Bible at all, you know that one of the repeated themes in the New Testament is that Christians will face trouble in this world. While some folks would prefer that those passages go away, the reality is that because the world is fallen (that is, broken by sin) we are surrounded by struggles. How we deal with those struggles, and what we believe through them, reveals a lot about our faith.

One of the struggles for the early church was the persecution from Rome. Starting under Nero and continuing off and on through the reign of Diocletian, Christians were frequently turned into the scapegoats of the Roman Empire. They were arrested, tried, and often executed in horrific ways, including becoming fodder for the brutal Coliseum Games. Both 1 Peter and Hebrews were written to first century Christians who were facing the early days of the Roman persecution. They were being targeted for cruelty not because they had done anything offensive, but because they were in themselves offensive to the Empire. By merely being people who loved and worshiped one God above all others, and because they held a view of the world that wasn’t in step with the times, they were branded criminals and outlaws and treated as such.

We similar things in our present world. There are governments in place today that treat anyone who doesn’t bend the knee to their preferred philosophical and/or theological leanings as criminal. In other nations, the government either doesn’t know how or simply doesn’t wish to stop acts of violence against Christians. Either way, in certain countries, giving your life to Jesus often means forfeiting your life in this world.

Which brings me to the title for this post. I have heard some people advance the idea that the Christian faith is being persecuted here in America. That the changing cultural values of our nation mean that the Christian worldview is no longer welcome. You can Google “anti-Christian Obama administration” and come up with some interesting results.

But let’s be clear: what Christianity faces in America isn’t persecution. It’s prosecution. We are not being dragged out of our homes and killed because we believe in Jesus. We’re being targeted and teased in the media because we’re often jerks. We’re not in danger of being rounded up and killed, then buried in a mass grave; we’re unpopular because we have in the past acted less than Christ-like.

Persecution is when you are targeted because of who you are. Prosecution is when you’re targeted for how you behave.

No one in America goes after Christians who live according to Titus 3:1-2; no one goes after Christians who adhere to James 3:13-18. So it’s not really Christian persecution we experience here.

Instead, the Christians that get attacked are Christians perceived as arrogant, bullying, loud, hypocritical, self-serving, self-righteous. And funny enough, they aren’t just attacked and condemned by secularists or other religions; they’re not just called out by a leftist media with an agenda; they’re called out by the very Word of God that they so loudly claim to believe in and represent!

I have no agenda with this, other than to call us back to lives that – ironically – lead to persecution. The history of the faith is that the people of God, living lives of godly obedience and service, have always become targets for persecution. It’s only when we move outside of that godly life and align ourselves with false gods (like money and political power) that we become targets of prosecution.

We aren’t told to go and seek the world’s contempt. Jesus didn’t command us to torment the world with the Gospel. We are commanded to go and make disciples, and to live quiet lives of obedience. The world will summon its hatred of us on its own – we don’t need to give them ammunition.

Globally, we have more martyrs for the faith than ever before; we don’t need manufactured martyrs to cheapen the power of those deaths.

3 thoughts on “Persecution/Prosecution

  1. Jason, thank you for this interesting commentary. I agree that as a Christian in the US, we are not being persecuted. But what I do believe we are experiencing is a loss of our freedom to express our religious beliefs in public. I think I understand separation of church and state, but I think that apathetic Christians have allowed more zealous individuals of other faiths here in our own country to dominate our everyday life practices. This country was founded on Biblical principles and because of that we have opened our doors to the world. What we have not done is “defend” those principles. We have allowed those who come to this country from foreign lands to pass laws here in the USA and even become President with enormous powers. They have removed some of our religious freedoms under the guise of “making it free for all religions”. But what has really happened is that religious faiths, other than Christian, have become the controlling voice in the USA. I pray that all of us “yellow bellied so-called Christians” will gird ourselves with the full armor of God and do what is required to insure that our children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to openly express their faith in our God if they so choose. May God help us!


  2. What religious freedoms have been lost? I am free to worship at the church of my choosing and do so as often as I feel compelled to do so. Heck, I’m even free to worship at OTHER churches of OTHER religions if I so choose. Right now, we are a polarized nation and many seem to validate their beliefs in this polarization.

    Galations 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

    It’s still true today.


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