Lately when I watch the news, I no longer doubt the treatment and torture of the martyrs. The current rise in our inability to differ without violence, for me anyway, validates the stories of the martyrs. We live in a society that demands conformity. We refuse at our own risk. Conformity in driving laws and structural engineering is a good thing. When it comes to forcing others into a moral position, conformity becomes oppression.
The ancient Christian world was not without peace. Depending upon the local ruler, Christians were allowed to act freely or were forced into hiding. A sympathetic ruler could mean the difference between evangelism and martyrdom. We are witnessing the same behavior in our society today. Leaders choose sides, and the pendulum swings throughout history. The problem with a pendulum is that it always comes back toward you.
The difference between forced conformity and free will is the Church. The Church, guided into all the truth by the Holy Spirit (John 16.13), teaches a way of life meant to draw us closer to God. The world, guided into darkness by the devil, teaches a way of life that draws us closer to death. We choose which we prefer.
The Church commemorates an elderly martyr today by the name of Hermias. Take a moment and read a very brief account of his martyrdom here. Like so many martyrs of the ancient Church, Hermias refused to give up his faith in Christ. He refused to conform to the values of the pagan world and was tortured because of it.
Step back and ask yourself if the world is honoring your free will, or if the world is forcing you into conformity. As Christians we honor the freedom of others by allowing them to believe and live as they choose. The Church has always understood the difference between those living outside the Church and those living inside the Church. The world has its way. The Church has our way.
This is all to say, do not focus on conforming to the world. The world hates God and the truth. Focus on living as Christ wants you to live and allow those outside the Church to live as they please. Just know this. The world will always try to force us into conformity. I can’t say when they will start with the physical torture. I suspect that once social media campaigns don’t change our mind, then violence will be the only option the world has left against us.