This evening, I was reflecting on certain events in Rome’s history that affected the early church. For example, when Nero blamed Christians for Rome’s fire, where in reality it was Nero who started it. And Christians were blamed for famines and earthquakes, because Christians, who were ironically labeled as “atheists,” offended the pantheon of Roman gods for not believing in them, and thus refused to sacrifice to and honor them.
Fast forward to this global outbreak, I suspect the day may come that in some contrived rationale this world will turn on Christians and find a pretext to blame Christians for the virus. The depraved, unregenerate nature is creative. For example, perhaps when a rushed vaccine comes out that has not been properly safety tested and many Christians object to being injected with foreign genetic material and other toxic substances the world will cry foul: “Shame on you Christians . . . away with you!”
Other possible pretexts could be mentioned, but the point is to understand that the proclivity of the world is to hate on us and use us as a scapegoat for the world’s ills.
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.” (John 15:18–19)
However, our response to the world is counter intuitive, to love them and do good to them. That is God’s will because he will use that to bring repentance to their hearts.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.” (Rom 12:17–13:1)
Regardless if the world blames us for the virus, it is inevitable that as each day the second coming becomes closer, the world will become more hostile toward us (Matt 24:9–13). As this happens, it will be imperative that we recall Peter’s instruction for Christians on how to respond to wrongdoing and persecution:
“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?” (1 Pet 4:12–17)