‘I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’ Acts 22:7
The transformation of Apostle Paul is not just an other conversion, it holds the truth on how personal the Church is to Christ. It carries a lesson that it is indeed hard to kick against the goads, the gates of hell cannot stand against what God had established. This is the testament it had left for centuries in the spirit of history. As the Soldier who crucified Christ confessed that ‘He is the son of God’, the Persecutor- in – Chief became the Propagator- in – Chief. It’s our hope that many Pauls would rise, even if it means the Church is put through danger, even if persecution is the way that somebody could meet Christ. Whether someone likes it or not, the Church and the Gospel is here to stay…
The Church was born out of persecution. As the 19th century French preacher Lacordaire said ‘The Church was born crucified’.
This particular subject was long persistent in my heart, but when I started to tiltle it a week back, and as I began scripting it now, I’m all the more convinced that I’m already too late in many ways. When I say religious Freedom, all it means is freedom of thought, belief and expression, and not about a narrow cultural or symbolical impression. The freedom to know the truth which sets every man free!
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32.
Even as we engage with this article ,there are thousands suffering and are in migration because of religious persecution all around the world. The news of government of China’s oppressive moves on Churches, especially the growing tensions in Hongkong and the new control of the Government over the Churches there, as well the ever rising communal divide in India, and challenges Christian community facing through oppressive draconian laws of discrimination and threats of political fringes, then with the usual much closed parts of Middle East and other parts of the Globe that is against religious freedom and the Church. Even now, getting to hear the news that 700 Christians were massacred in Nigeria. These are not just stray incidents, these are signs building up to a much larger agenda that is imminent upon the church.
The days ahead looks seriously challenging in many ways , but it is not new, the Church has lived with this realiity for ages, right from the beginning. The most trusted friend of the Gospel is its opposition and persecution. Even if it’s not new, its good to remind ourselves of this reality, and prepare ourserlves for the challenges ahead!
Twenty two years back on January 23, this same day, Graham Staines, a missionary Doctor from Australia to India was martyred in Manoharpur, Odhisha. Burnt alive along with his sons Philip(10) and Timothy (6). This incident shook the conscience of the Nation. A group of religious fanatics induced by hatred torched the vehicle they were sleeping. A family which came to serve a marginalized tribal community in Odhisha, especially those who were affected with leperosy was meted out with such cruelty. They came to serve in Jesus Name, but for those whom they came for killed them mercilessly. The wife of the missionary and the mother of the two children who were killed. Graciously forgave those killers in public. Thus showing the power of God’s love.
Many like them in the past and in the present are giving themselves to be the object of ridicule and hate for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. It is through such sacrifice, we can boldly say…His truth will march on… till the end!!
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds”. John 12:24.
The early Church theologian Tertullian, said this,
“The blood of the martyr is the seed of the Church”.
Everytime we lose something for the sake of the Kingdom, we receive it hundred fold.
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:29-30.
Why Religious Freedom important?
Religious freedom is a fundamental freedom of ‘belief’. Every freedom as humans we relate come from the freedom of belief. Our culture,expressions, choices, perspectives everything comes out of a certain belief. As much as religious freedom is a vital to welfare, growth and health of a society, it is the most attacked freedom of all, everywhere across the world. It is important to understand the need of religious freedom first of all.
From the time of Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to modern day democratic republics, this still remains controversial and not much spoken, still it remains in the spirit of the letter and not in practice acoss many groups in the world. It is important to stress upon religious freedom, the fundamental human freedom.
“The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him.”
– James Madison
“The constitutional freedom of religion is the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights”.
“Where freedom of religion has been attacked, the attack has come from sources opposed to democracy. Where democracy has been overthrown, the spirit of free worship has disappeared. And where religion and democracy have vanished, good faith and reason in international affairs have given way to strident ambition and brute force”.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Religious freedom and Democracy are so uniquely tied with each other, that if someone or a nation believes in democracy will always cherish Religious freedom. Religious freedom is the cornerstone for any democracy. Since Religious Freedom ascertains the fundamental freedom of belief and thought.
Obstacles to Religious Freedom:
One of the main obstacles to religious freedom is ‘fear’. The fear of losing control. Since religion and belief forms the core identity of any region or a nation. The systems and order are formed through a majoritarian opinion. And Religious freedom can disturb that majoritarian opinion, which in turn can destroy the existing order.
There is an example in the Bible, in Acts 19 where Paul preaches at Ephesus there was an opposition by a Silversmith named Demetrius, these are his words,
“There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” Acts 19:27.
The fear of losing control lead to a riot and Paul had to retreat from his preaching. Here the freedom of expression of belief and thought is curtailed because they knew it will jeopardize certain social order.
All across the world where Religious freedom is curtailed, comes from the places of power. Though the common people in Ephesus were willing to hear the words of Paul, Demetrius who had commercial control of that region instigates common people to riot against Paul.
“But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district”. Acts 13:50.
Then the other case is when Paul was charged with creating disharmony in the society, hence legally prosecuting him, because of the fear of losing control.
“But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat”. Acts 18:12.
The fear of losing control or fear of losing identity are the main obstacles to religious freedom. It comes out of an anxiety about something which threatens the existing order, pattern,comfort or norm.
Christianity and Religious Freedom :
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Luke 6:22.
We who are in Christ are the children of everlasting freedom, and we must value religious freedom, than any other in this world. Since crucifixion of Christ was due to denial of speaking the truth. Jesus was falsely accused, he was denied religious liberty and freedom of belief and propogation in his time. The Apostles and the Church became the victim of the establishment, they were denied their freedom to proclaim the Gospel, they were killed, insulted, persecuted and threatened. Throughout the centuries the Church and the Gospel has faced persecution all across the world. Wherever the Gospel went, and wherever it was proclaimed it was met with opposition.
Even now it’s still the case, it is observed in a BBC article of 2019 that,
The persecution of Christians in parts of the world is at near “genocide” levels, according to a report ordered by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Open Doors observe that 340 million christians are persecuted worldwide!
The Church eventhough looks like the most prominent community in the world, it is the most persecuted community across the world. It has opened freedom and paved way for democracies, hence regional authorities fear its impact and react. Hence the rights of the Gospel and its freedom has been challenged and curtailed in many ways. Even Christian service has been facing severe restrictions in many parts of the world, as it empowers people.
Especially Jesus said Go and Preach the Gospel to all creation. I believe the Gospel and Evangelism tests the freedom of belief in every place. Wherever in the world, it tests the presence of freedom in that place. It not only transforms people, and make them a new creation. It also breaks open the doors and chains of captivity leading all men to freedom. Evangelism promotes freedom of belief and expression, it gives a message of hope to someone who is in need of freedom. In a society where people feared to speak the truth, Jesus spoke the truth through his Gospel. When the Apostles were threatened by religious authorities, they were limited inside the upper room, where the Holy Spirit filled them with power, then Peter stood up and proclaimed the Gospel. It opened up a new pathway to freedom, eventhough all faced persecution, and they were scattered, wherever they went, they opened up the communities towards a new higher thought, a new better way and importantly freedom. The Church still remains as the voice of freedom everywhere!!
“The One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out. Their King will pass through before them, the LORD at their head.” Micah 2:13.
And more importantly the message or the Gospel talks about the greatest freedom of all, the FREEDOM OF LOVE, the freedom of love beyond ourselves. Love beyond, discrimination, oppression, rejection, love which is revealed in sacrifice. It talks about loving even the enemies, to show the other cheek, to pray for those who persecute, to do good even to those treat badly. The greatest freedom the Gospel offers is the freedom to love, it scares the forces of darkness and evil which operates in fear and hate.
It was for this expression of God’s love, many sacrificed their own lives. As Christians we must remember that we are the ambassadors of Religious freedom, through our voice, tolerance, service and ultimately Sacrifice!
Bible : Is there a Controversial Contradiction?
When we talk about Religious freedom, does it apply to all ? Or we must talk about religious freedom where Christianity is not an establishment?
I believe we are beacons of religious freedom or freedom of belief everywhere. If Christianity is in majority, I believe we have a greater responsibility to safeguard religious freedom. But the bigger question is, does the scriptures approve of it?
If religious freedom applies to all then how can we protect the exclusivity of truth. Does it mean we accept those religious practices contradictory to the to the truths found in the scriptures. There are many passages in the scriptures which gives us such an intolerant picture about Israel in the Old Testament, those who have been chosen by God. This question would involve a vast thought process, and I don’t know one can give a perfect answer to this to anyone with a humanistic approach. It should be viewed with a contextual and practical approach.
First of all, we must see the scriptures in the light of its history. Even we must view the history of Israel in the context of it’s covenant with God.
The exclusivity of Faith begins with Abraham, when God makes a covenant with him to bless the whole world through him. Abraham lived by the covenant, tested through the covenant, even blessed and punished by the same covenant. So the story of Israel must be greatly viewed in the context of its covenant. They began as nomads leaving their own land, and God promised them a land for their descendants as part of the covenant , then they became slaves in a foreign land, after that they possess their promised land to rule over it, they were divided and they became captives and got scattered, then few came back and rebuilt their important city, then the New Covenant of God directly with all people through Christ.And those intolerant nature towards other beliefs which can be seen against religious freedom was only found in the period of their direct rule in the promised land.
Since they were in covenant, the law trained their conscience to seek the high standards of God in their private and public life. They were different from all other people, their law desired Justice and Mercy, from King to Ordinary people fell under the blessing and punishment of the Law. They only stayed within the boundaries of their promised Land, they didn’t go on capturing many nations like the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks and the others. They only defended themselves against those who came against them. The people of the land they occupied had many evils like child sacrifice, homosexuality to other immoralities in the name of their own gods and religion, and God had to be severe in them to protect them from such behaviour. When we look the at the contextual aspect when the chosen people were willing to eat their children and commit various crimes ,and lot’s daughters willing lie down with their father, shows how bad company around could impact their Holiness and how they can acquire practices and patterns God did not intended for them, and they would be punished under the law because of the covenant like any mordern justice system works. It applied to everyone. When as the leader and as a Nation they rejected the fear of God and Justice, he removed them from the land and made them as captives, so they were disciplined under the covenant.
“You have been set apart as holy to the LORD your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure”. Deuteronomy 14:2
Especially the destruction of the high places of other gods and it’s prophets were acts of reformation within their territory and community. There were many people of their own that is Israel, became followers and prophets of other gods which brought severe moral decay to the nation . So the reformation was done within which was sometime severe like many nations even now deal with many insurrections, and it has to be noted that it was not followed outside their provinces. When they were captives in the foreign land, some stood for the right to not worship foreign gods and suffered due to that. So we must consider all these various contexts before coming to a conclusion in this matter.
It’s important to note that when Israelites came out of Egypt because of oppression, the Freedom of worship was quoted to the Pharaoh. God called them to worship him freely.
Elijah @ Mount Carmel : Religious Freedom as ‘Search for Truth‘
“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God. Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” 1 Kings 18:24.
Elijah stood for the challenge to openly show the difference between truth and falsehood. He had to reveal to Israel who is the one and true God. He made altars, and the one who answers by fire, consuming the sacrifice was the true God. Right there at Mount Carmel the truth was revealed. Even the same occured when Moses staff consumed the staff of Egyptian magicians, same with Daniel and his friends diet at Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. They put themselves to test. In the New Testament, through many signs and wonders God had confirmed his truth.
We must promote religious freedom, not to encourage falsehood, but people to seek the truth, search for it and find it. There are many nations in the world, especially in North Korea, China, Iran and many parts of the middle east have not given the space for their citizens to have right to choose their belief. They have been denied religious freedom and in that process they were denied the access to the truth of the Gospel. It is the reason we must consider religious freedom as serious option, its not that we accept something else, but open a healthy space for truth to operate. It gives opportunity to everyone. A truth which makes their lives better, and gives the hope of a future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29: 11.
Thinking about those valuable people in these closed countries, God is entering in to their lives through visions and dreams. Praise God for it, he breaks every man made barriers to promote his truth.
Didn’t the God of all creation patiently waits, and gives time for all people to know him? Hasn’t he accommodated all kinds of people in this earth irrespective of their choices?
Historical Blunder :
How did Christian empires of the past react to religious liberty is also a vital question to ask. How did the Church leadership in Rome react to the protestant reformation in Europe? How were the puritans treated in the so called ‘Christian Kingdom’in Britain, and how were the Jews treated in the evangelical friendly lutheranized Germany? These are tough questions the Church must ask itself. The numerous life killed in the name of God to consolidate earthly power shows how much we the victims of religious freedom must learn, we are those who must value and propagate it around the world. The very reason for which the Apostles sacrificed their own lives, must think all these matters with deep caution and conviction. There is no freedom without sacrifice, and that’s what for Jesus Christ, Apostles and the early church stood forth strongly.
Organic or Organized ?
Coming back to persecution which results because of the lack of religious freedom has to be seen from different dimensions and understood.
In some places it is organic,
Especially when missionary Jim Elliot who went to the Huaorani people of Equador to share the Gospel and live with them. The tribal people reacted in fear about something which is different from them, him and his friends were killed. This sacrifice happens everywhere among an isolated tribe, but once they know, like how the wife of Jim Elliot was able to work among the same people shows its a matter of being accustomed. The missionary movement had opened up to many tribes across the world. And today we see, such hostile tribes were very much open to the Gospel. We see many communities raised among those people, even though there was an initial persecution due to ignorance.
But many are organized by the powerful. I think many persecution around the world are organized to defend the powerul, they use it as a means of control. Persecution happens not only destroying their life, but damaging their public standing, denial of rights, prosecuting them legally through false accusations. The story of Asia Bibi in Pakistan is a very good example, of how an entire system can stand against a single woman’s right to belief . The powerful also organize persecution through fringe groups threatening the peaceful existence of religious minorities as in the case of Graham Staines.
In Lystra, because of a miracle, the people there started worshipping Paul and Barnabas as Hermes and Zeus, but Jews from Iconium instigated the crowd, they started to violently persecute them ( Acts 14: 8-19). So th powerful organize the will of the people or through law to persecute and deny the freedom of belief.
I think religious freedom is practically possible in every level only when those in power and authority gives a conscious space to it legally and promote it freely. In an organized world, the powerful know how to manipulate systems in order to threaten the freedom of thought and belief to those who were powerless. I think the Church does well without the power, we learn to depend the power from high like the early Apostles, even it means suffering at different levels. But a government or a power centre which is sensitive to the vitality of religious freedom can do lot of good to the truth.
Standing for Liberty based on Human cause:
This article focuses on Christian persecution and religious freedom, because there is nobody who foresaw and prepared his disciples than Jesus did. He taught them to react in love when persecuted, to show the other cheek. Thus in love he stands for freedom of belief. As I said, the Gospel is the forerunner for freedom of belief and Religious liberty, to establish and promote non-violent Kingdom based upon the foundation of love, compassion, righteousness and justice. But it doesn’t exclude the standing up for any persecuted community around the world. As I said, we are the beacon of hope, promoting freedom of thought and belief, destroying every forces of oppression. As much as we talk about the persecution of Christians across the world, we must also speak for the Rohingyas in Nepal, Kurds in Syria, Tamils in srilanka. We must stand against strategical oppression and organized violence everywhere. Non-violence and Justice forms the core of the Gospel. Jesus is the truth, and the truth is expressed in a better way, when we stand with the oppressed in whatever way we could.
We must view this as “ The threat to freedom of belief somewhere is a threat to freedom of belief everywhere”.
Media and Religious Freedom:
One of the greatest tools to promote religious freedom and freedom of belief is through Media. There are dark corners of the world, where our feet could not reach, but our voices could be heard. There we offer them hope even in the absence of our presence, by sending these digital messages and kindle their spirit, the freedom of the spirit which cannot be contained by any man made borders or restrictions. As the Bible say “Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
I was inspired by the Lord to write a devotional blog last year, and God by his grace enabled me to do it to an extent, when I received the viewers history, the hundreds who watched from different parts of the world, didn’t make me as much excited than the few came from Iraq and Nigeria. I thanked God for the media which took the Gospel across.
Who can forget the FEBA Radio in India which carried the Goodnews across the unknown tribes of the land.
As much as media has become an effective tool in the hands of evil and destructive powers. It is important how it can be a tool of hope to someone who are under oppressive regimes, even through all those restrictions, getting a weak signal in its borders, could receive possibly the message of hope for the first time. That can be the power of Gospel which promotes freedom of belief with the truth that can change lives towards a higher hope.
Promoting Religious Freedom the Jesus way!
There are ways in which we can promote Freedom of Belief, it is through creating awareness about these issues, by giving voice, image and a theory to these issues, and also tools and systems to help these cause.
But as these above needs remain. I want to highlight these three ways that Jesus taught us in the issue of persecution, and I believe these are absolutely fundamental.
1.Prayer – Showing mercy in Spirit :
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Matthew 5:44.
Prayer is interceding to God to show mercy to those who persecute us. Jesus never told us something which he himself didn’t go through. His was not a mere advice, but a life lesson! He said from the cross ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. There is power in praying for those who cause us pain for Christ’s sake. I always think of the Early church , It was so immersed in prayer for the persecuted Church leaders, and the Church, I also believe they would have prayed for Paul, who moved with murderous threats against the Church. The more they were persecuted, the more they were persistent in prayer. It gives power to the voice of freedom. It resulted in multitudes turning to the Lord, including Apostle Paul. We show mercy in our spirit when we pray, we reveal the heart of christ. When persecuted Church prays, it is more powerful than any full fledged weapon built army (Acts 4). Prayer still transforms !
2. Preaching – Speaking the truth in Love :
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ”. Ephesians 4:15.
Gospel is the most porful advocate for freedom of Belief. The Gospel is filled with God’s sacrificial love, it is the greatest promoter of freedom of belief. The Bible says ‘If the son sets you free, you are free indeed”. John 8:34. It talks about everlasting freedom in Christ. As the Church continued to preach the Gospel in every possible way, we must speak and live the truth in Love. Only the Love of Christ revealed in the Gospel, can be the greatest channel for religious freedom. Since it doesn’t seek to harm anyone. The theology is so deep in the Christian faith, as God in love gave himself for the truth, and that truth which sets all men is revealed only in Love. What a great responsibility God has bestowed upon us that we are chosen to respresent his truth. Lest we become arrogant with it.
“And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” . Luke 9 : 5.
If people doesn’t receive, he asked us to leave them to him, even those who reject. So let’s not condemn anyone, but leave them to God.
3. Patience – Serving in Chains:
“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted”. Hebrews 12:3.
Patient endurance is our strength, not just tolerating persecution, but accepting it as part of doing God’s will. Apostle. Paul didn’t fear it, but patiently endured as Christ endured the cross. He was falsely accused and was put in prison and in chains. Even then he praised God and patiently waited for the blessed hope. Especially he served while in chains, he wrote the famous prison letters there, he served the local community with the same passion. He writes to his beloved son Timothy,
“You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them”. 2 Timothy 3:10&11.
What a teaching to follow, our patient endurance in faith will extend the freedom of belief. Apostle. Paul was beheaded for freely expressing the truth about his faith!
“for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained”. 2 Timothy 2:9.
A Soul which is truly free cannot be chained. It utters the truth freely. Nobody can chain the soul. The spirit sets it free by truth. As Apostle Paul, one can live free in any circumstances. If we guard our hearts with patience and truth.
Are we in the threshold of a great human right catastrophe?
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me”. Matthew 24:9.
When Jesus spoke about the signs of his second coming, he spoke about a persecution of a very large magnitude. As persecution of those who stand up for the truth, and those who proclaim the truth is on the rise across the world. It is very possible that we are staring at a human right catastrophe at a different level. The more the coming of Christ is near, the more is the tribulation of those who promote Gospel, and the freedom associated with it. As the Gospel gives the freedom to hit the other cheek. Is the Church truly prepared for it? When such times come, would we stand up for what is right. In the coming days the freedom of belief, thought, expression and propagation is not going to be easy. It is imminent on us to carry this beacon of hope in every possible way amidst opposition.
Behold, the Body of Christ
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Matthew 10:22.
When Paul accepted Christ he was prepared by God to undergo suffering for him, and he says in Galatians 6:17 “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus”. The body of Christ on the cross which was broken represents the Church which also called the body of Christ which has to be broken for Christ. Sometimes we underestimate the cost and price we have to pay in following Jesus. Many avoid the message of the cross in the pulpits because people want to hear only motivational talks which can motivate and keep our spirits high, we just want to hear good things and comfortable things. The fact is real motivation comes from the hardest of truth, and the hard truth is suffering for Christ is part and parcel of following Christ. The crucified savior on the cross reminds us that we all need to suffer for the sake of him, and we can never get away from it. Suffering comes in many forms and ways, especially it comes in the form of persecution. From the time of the Apostles to this time the Church has gone through persecution throughout these centuries and many have laid their lives for Christ and is still relevant to all of us. Jesus spoke about that is upon the body of Christ and he explains it like this “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again”. Matthew 24:21. The cross prepares us to look forward to the destiny, the destiny of suffering for his name. This difficult path also assures us of a greater reward of his glory according to Romans 8:17. As Jesus went through the suffering for a greater purpose the Church should be prepared to face this truth and Christ on the cross serves as a reminder.
More than a religion, Jesus gave himself for a relationship.
Fall to Rise :
Freedom of belief is the cry of the Church. It gives space to truth. I think it’s important we think about it, and prepare ourselves and others about the crisis ahead. Even as we walk by faith, its important to remember the great responsibility we carry. We must keep offering hope through Christ, as the world needs to hear it. Our prayer remains this,Let every persecutor like Paul fall to the ground, only to be raised in Christ. Its a Holy duty of the church to value democracy, and the democratic duty of the state to uphold the values of Christ in its public life.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name”. 1 Peter 4: 12-16.