Scripture is very clear that the people of God can expect persecution to come. ”Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
On one level it is not difficult to understand why. Christ said that those brought to Him by the Father would not be of the world, just as He was not of the world. For this the world would hate them. God’s people are in a category of not being of the world, they are different in conduct and character.
Christ stated as fact that, “… men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light …” (John 3:19-20). If we live godly, we are to let our light shine before men. Clearly, if we do that (and it is not an option) then we can eventually expect persecution.
The Apostle Paul said that we are able to stand against the scheming of Satan if we put on the whole armor of God. Knowing that Satan has schemes (wiles) allows us to have understanding of why some things are happening in the world. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.
The subverting of anything that someone might disagree with is a technique we commonly observe. Those intent on destroying society can’t allow anything to stand in their way, so the strategy is to discredit the people who have a different point of view. By attacking the messenger, the intent is to discredit the message. If you can smear the messenger, you effectively reduce the impact of the message.
This is a classic move we see employed on a very regular basis, particularly in the area of politics. However, it is not a new tactic. The Apostle John revealed this technique 19 centuries ago.
The religious leaders of Christ’s day – namely the scribes and Pharisees – held great power and prestige in the eyes of the community. They were the recognized heads of an ecclesiastical system that was tied to the political system. To them, Jesus Christ was an upstart who was rocking their boat. Not only had He declared Himself to be the Son of God, but ordinary people were listening to Him. He was a threat to their position in the community. So they launched a smear campaign against Him.
In John chapter 8, we can identify four accusations. In verse 13 they accused Christ of being a liar. In verse 19 they questioned His paternity. In verse 41 they inferred He was illegitimate. And in verses 48 and 52 they accused Him of being possessed by the devil. In short, they began to malign Him in the hope that no one would listen to His message.
It is a tactic that has been used against the leaders of God’s Church over the years. Throw enough mud and some will stick.
No one wants to experience persecution, but since it is a reality we need to be confident that God will use it to His advantage. He intends the light of truth to shine brightly to illuminate the evil in the world.
Through the terrifying development of AI, many new methods of persecution and harassment are opening up. We are not to live in fear of persecution, but neither should we bring it on ourselves needlessly. We are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:11, 16).
God will turn our persecution into His glory. His message will reach the world.