Acts 4:1-4 (NASB)
1 As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
3 And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening.
4 But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
The apostles, Peter and John, experienced persecution for following and talking about Jesus Christ. It was the norm as you can see in this passage from Acts 4. Twenty centuries later, nothing has changed.
Globally, it is not unusual for followers of Jesus to be persecuted for their faith. When I say “their faith”, I am not merely referring to what one believes in his mind or heart but also how his faith affects his lifestyle. Jesus, in no uncertain terms, told his followers that following Him would involve “fishing for men” (Matt 4:19). They were to “make disciples” (Matt 28:19) and to “be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8). Bottom-line: followers of Jesus tell others of Jesus and encourage them to follow Him.
Following Jesus involves sharing the Gospel. This past week, in a conversation with a missionary our church supports, I was told that followers of Jesus in Southeast Asia expect to be persecuted. They believe the Bible clearly mandates the sharing of their faith and that, by doing so in their country, they should expect to be persecuted. Doing so in their country is illegal…yet following Jesus requires loyalty and obedience to Him.
I was told that followers of Jesus in those areas are suspicious of others who claim to be Christians but are not persecuted. If they are not persecuted, they assume, it is because they are not sharing their faith. They rightly wonder how one could be a follower of Jesus and not share his faith.
Followers of Jesus in the United States have religious freedoms that so many others do not. Yet, with these freedoms, we often elevated values such as political correctness and tolerance above our mandate to share the truth of the Gospel. Followers of Jesus have unfortunately become a “silent” believers, with a few exceptions. In fact, I hear people excuse their silence with “I don’t have the gift of evangelism.” Unfortunately, too many believe that this is acceptable. It is not. In fact, it is tragic for this nation.
Followers of Jesus are to be spokesmen and ambassadors for the King. We are called to speak out. The message may be rejected and often the messenger along with the message. It may hurt. But it is our calling on while on this earth. Will you allow the possibility of pain determine your obedience to the King that you profess to follow?