Suffering for being a Christian is a common topic in the holy book of New Testament. Today, in many parts of the world which are dominated by various types of extremists, brothers and sisters in Christ are still suffering simply because they go to the church to worship our Lord Jesus.
But in the rest of the world, people will not usually come to against the nominal title of Christian. Church people would not be persecuted by other humans with an open accusation against their being Christians or against their going to the church. But it does not mean strange things as referred to in 1 Peter 4:12 would not happen to Christians.
There is an obvious and strong contrast between the hardship that Christians are experiencing in the so-called democratic world with the persecutions suffered by the early church Christians and by brothers and sisters in those areas dominated by nowadays anti-Christian extremists. This contrast has been extensively used by preachers to show church people how easy their faith life is and how minor their sufferings are.
However, there is one issue that might be critical to the sufferings of Christians in the so-called democratic societies, which has been generally ignored and thus might hurt the faith or even life of those Christians. That issue could be stated as: because those sufferings do not bear a nominal tag of “persecutions of Christians”, they are normally not considered as persecutions from devil against Christians, even not considered so by churches in general from the largest church organization like Vatican to the local churches, Catholic or Protestant, with or without denominations, with a few exceptions. Moreover, while churches do often show sympathy to brothers and sisters who are experiencing difficulties in life, it is also often preached in churches that church people are suffering because their own laziness or own incapability. In this way, the strange things happened in the life of church people as referred to in 1 Peter 4:12 become irrelevant to the fact of being Christians but somehow similar or close to what is described in 1 Peter 4:15 “as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.”
To a real faithful Christian who is under the persecution from devil because of his identity of being a child of Jesus, it is much worse to be considered that his suffering has nothing to do with his identity of a Christian than to be arrested, tortured, or even killed openly for his identity of a Christian. This part has been utterly ignored by many nowadays churches, and thus actually hurts a lot those who are attacked by devil because of their faith in Jesus, because of their love for Jesus, because of their attempt of walking in God’s plan for them!
The worst thing for a warrior is not to die in the battle ground but to be abandoned by his own people.
Here the critical question is: from early church time to today and from those extremists-dominated areas to the so-called democratic societies, are the persecutions of Christian have been purely human actions or from devil? If all those persecutions have been pure human actions, nothing to do with devil, then all the churches have been doing correctly by not relating the sufferings of those brothers and sisters in the so-called democratic societies to the fact that they are Christians, since nobody has come to openly blame them as Christians.
But if we could agree that devil has always been behind the persecutions of Christians since the early church time, then we just should NOT assume that the sufferings of Christians in nowadays democratic countries have nothing to do with devil but simply caused by their own problems or something random reasons, even if during those persecutions nobody has openly blame anyone of them to be a Christian.
Of course, admitting the factor of devil is very risky to church leaders, since nowadays the only criteria (or at least the overwhelmingly main criteria) for church leaders to judge right and wrong are the socially recognizable signs. If someone is attacked by strange things in life but no one openly claims the action as against the identity of Christian, or even accused by people around him with all kinds of reasons, no matter how false they are, the church leaders would not have the resources and time to find out the truth, and thus have to face the professional risks by not agreeing with the world. Since the preachers are professionals, even though Christianity is not a religion but about the relationship with God as preached in nowadays churches, they have to act like professionals. We all understand that.
However, if Christian is about truth, not just professional easiness, then there should be a way for the church leaders to identify devil’s acts from human mistakes. Obviously, it is a very hard task for humans. We all understand that. We can only count on God to lead the church leaders in all their ways.
Glory to Jesus!