“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” – Tertullion
Thousands of Jewish Peasants, waiting in the fangs of the Roman Empire for liberation by the Messiah, lean in closely to hear the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. Surely, this is our moment of revolt! Here is our King… let’s go charge the enemy and overthrow the world’s first global super-power as God’s chosen nation!
And the climax of Jesus’ upside-down announcement
would have been a huge disappointment:
“Blessed are the Persecuted.”
The actual Greek word that is translated here [dioko], “hunted down, assaulted, and killed.” Blessed are you when you are executed for the sake of righteousness. “Rejoice and be glad that you were counted worthy to suffer!” Then Jesus flows into a conversation about being salt and light for a world reeling in decadence and darkness.
The paradox of salt and light poignantly reveals the need for integration and separation. Salt, if it is to be effective, must be integrated into the very fabric of the culture. In the 1st Century, salt was used as a preservative agent against the decay of death! It would have been rendered useless unless it were intentionally threaded into the dough of society, like yeast ~ inseparable. And to be the “Light of the world” would naturally assume a separation from the world, in order to provide illumination.
Integration and separation = transformation and illumination.
Welcome to the invitation to transform our world.
And what does persecution look like in our world today? Statistics are so widely varied for obvious reasons, not the least of which is the frequent disappearance of missing Christians in parts of the developing world. It has been estimated that 175,000 Christians are martyred every year. 287 every day. 12 per hour. 1 every 5 minutes…
And what is different about your life? How is the American church living as salt and light? A recent body of work was published, describing an investigative journalist perspective on Evangelical Lifestyles in modern times. Allen Wolf’s bottom line is summarized with a shrug, as if to say, “There’s really nothing to be worried about… these Christians pose no threat to our way of living. There’s nothing terribly different about them!” The following excerpt is his damning critique:
modern American landscape. They live in the suburbs, send their children to
four-year liberal arts colleges, work in the professional capacities,
enjoy contemporary music, shop in malls, raise confused and uncertain children,
and relate primarily to people with whom they share common interests…”
Nothing. Different. About. Us.
Perhaps the reason why we are not experiencing persecution in our age is because our light is so dim that our world is not even aware of our existence.