When looking at the history of the church and the contemporary situation it is clear that the witness to the deity and lordship of Christ causes resistance, hostility, and persecution. There is no question that the New Testament writers believed Jesus to be the Lord. By this, they meant that Jesus is the Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, fully God and fully human, and the only Savior of humankind. He alone is supreme and to Him alone do we owe ultimate allegiance. What Jesus Christ teaches and commands has priority over all other teaching and authority, both in heaven and on earth. Contemporary followers of Jesus believe this as well.
Therefore, Christ’s command to preach and teach salvation in and through Him is our highest priority. By obeying this mandate, Christ’s disciples will face opposition, since it is the most serious threat to the powers of darkness, and it directly confronts any authority that tries to set itself up as the ultimate authority over Christ. Authorities and powers that do not set themselves up as superior to Christ’s authority will not see Christ or His disciples as a threat, and will most likely accommodate Christ’s mandate without interference. This allows for the freedom that should be guaranteed by every government.However, certain ideologies that control human governments see freedom as a threat to their power. God’s people will seek to fulfill their calling whethergovernments concur with them or resist them. In reality, the resistance isagainst God rather than his people or the message. He is the One beingrejected.
The common theme in the stories of faithful martyrs is that they die due to their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Those who are loyal to him are seen as a threat to earthly kings and kingdoms. Tertullian, early church father, testifies in To the Heathen (I.3) that it is evident that the crime that Christians are being charged with is not for any alleged wicked acts they were committing but simply for bearing the Name of Christ. Over and over again, he writes, the Name is punished by sword, cross, wild-beasts, and the gallows. Ignatius, another church father, died in Rome in AD 111. He died in the amphitheater, devoured by hungry lions, because he refused to neither blaspheme the name of Jesus nor offer sacrifice to the gods. As he was led away from the Roman Senate with the sentence of death, he constantly repeated the name of Jesus in his conversations with other Christians and in his prayers.
While acknowledging the authority of governments, Christians acknowledge a higher authority that ultimately requires us to obey God rather than man, if the demands are in conflict with each other (Acts 5:29). The Christian continues to witness even if it is illegal to witness and will continue taking Bibles to believers even if Bibles are banned. It is a matter of priorities—God’s priorities.
Interestingly,there is first the beautiful Christmas story and then Mary and Joseph and Jesus had to escape to Egypt to escape persecution by a tyrant. The story goes on and on. Tyrants can’t seem to kill us off fast enough! We keep coming back and after all these years we still witness to Christ as Lord.