But then he ran afoul of a group called Hellenists—he had been engaged in a running argument with them—who plotted his murder. Acts 9:29 (TM)
While in Israel a few years ago, I had the priviledge of worshipping with a group of Arab Christians in their church. The church building was small and inconspicuous by American standards. The local gathering was a small group that spanned all ages. They sat in a circle and sang. There was a certain depth of sincerity and joy I witnessed in them as they sang and worshipped. While among them, I learned that the leader of this local congregation had his life threatened by a Muslim cleric. The church itself had been attacked and set afire with molotov cocktails. The believers lived out their faith fully aware that, because of their faith, others wanted them dead.
It struck me today how, at least for some, the consequences of being a Christian in that area of the world are much the same as they were 2000 years ago. Paul had overseen the stoning of Stephen and was bent on making other Christians suffer. Now, having put his faith in Christ, his own life was threatened by both the Jews of Damscus and the Greeks in Jerusalem. It was an eye opening experience for a guy from Iowa, who is used to worshipping in relative comfort and ease.
What would be different about my faith if going to church each week would result in a price being put on my head?