Persecution of Christians has taken many forms over the centuries and is found in various forms around the world in our time. Where are we on this chart? Generally, the progression will be from left to right. Where is the breaking point for each of us? If we withstand the milder forms, we are more likely to stand a more severe form—all by God’s grace. If we cave under the milder forms, it will be very difficult to retain our integrity later on. Think of Daniel taking his stand first against eating non-kosher food, which strengthened his resolve to resist pressure to worship idols later on.
Chart from the blog of Rebecca Hamilton http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2013/03/degrees-of-christian-persecution-where-does-america-fit/
An angelic visit could be a terrifying experience (as people like Mary, the shepherds, and the women coming to Jesus’ empty tomb can testify)—unless they came incognito. Two such visits occur in Genesis 18 and 19.
Three “strangers” visited Abraham (Genesis 18) to bring the long-awaited news that he would finally have the son God had promised him 24 years before. This was a visit of blessing to a man who was known later as a “friend of God.” No, he wasn’t perfect, but his heart was God-ward.
Two of those strangers proceeded on to visit Lot (Genesis 19) to bring a message of doom. Everything would be taken away from him who had gravitated to the city of Sodom with its wealth, avant-garde lifestyle, and easy living (Genesis 13:5-13). He was in the wrong place at the wrong time when God decided He’d had enough. And though his family was forcibly ushered out of town by their angel escorts, the attraction and worldview of that place had made such an imprint on his wife and daughters that he “lost” them, too. His wife turned back and was frozen forever in that pose, and his daughters, well….
Interestingly, Lot himself is given credit for being a “righteous man” who was distressed by the life of his townspeople (2 Peter 2:7-8). When he protested their assault on his guests, notice their verbal attack: They accused him of being judgmental, intolerant! Hmmm—sound familiar?