About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. (Acts 12:1 ESV)
James was John’s brother. He was one of the first disciples. He was also one of the first martyrs.
Herod arrested a few leaders from the young church. He saw how it pleased the jealous Jews and so he smelled blood in the water. He began a campaign of terror against the Christians, seeking to gain approval from the countrymen that had shunned his family’s rule for so long.
It had little to do with beliefs. It wasn’t about money, not for Herod. It was about popularity. It was about political power.
The wheels of opinion have long since shifted in America. Once secularist ideas have become commonly held world views. Things that shocked and stunned a few decades ago, are now embraced, promoted, and legitimized. As this trend continues there may come a day, some would argue that it is already here, when Christians are outright persecuted. It may happen simply so a politician can gain, or keep, the spotlight.
The possibility of persecution will not thwart the authentic followers of Jesus. It will instead galvanize the Bride of Christ to shine with the true love of Jesus. It will shine bright. It will draw people away from darkness and into the family of God.