I have been reading about the persecution that occurred in the early church in Everett Ferguson's book entitled "Church History: The Rise and Growth of the Church." Apparently, they went through a period of time when it was actually popular to be a Christian, however that came to a crashing halt when Decius became emperor. His first order of the day was to have higher clergy arrested. His second was a universal order to sacrifice to the gods of the empire (burn incense, pour a libation, and taste sacrificial meat). Those who sacrificed received a certificate testifying that they had complied. After a generation of peace, the church as a whole was unprepared for the challenge. Many had grown comfortable in the acceptance of Christianity, and vast numbers lapsed from the faith by obeying the command to sacrifice."
As I read this, I could not help but to think of the church of our day. We have lived in a nation in which it has actually been popular to be a Christian. As a matter of fact, it was an expectation. However, we have seen that attitude change over the last two to three decades. Now, it has become popular to insult Christianity, spurn the teachings of the Bible, and to look down on Christians as uneducated and fanatical. Persecution is coming. Make no mistake about. The price to call ourselves Christians is about to go up as surely as taxes under this new president. Are we ready for it? I hope that years of "peace" and "acceptance" have not softened us to the point that we can no longer stand up and be counted. God forbid that we should be numbered among the lapsed.