Review of Christians in the Crosshairs: Persecution in the Bible and Around the World Today by Gregory C. Cochran
What role should persecution play in the Christian's life. In his Christians in the Crosshairs, Greg Cochran explores the meaning of 2 Timothy 3:12, "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Indeed, how are we to understand Jesus' statement that those who are persecuted are blessed and should rejoice (Matt 5:10-12)?
In Cochran's very accessible book written to benefit laymen or pastors, he begins with a careful explanation of what persecution is and is not. The most general definition of persecution is that it is "a negative reaction to the incarnate presence of Jesus." This basic definition helps us begin to identify what is and is not persecution. It means that persecution is not when my coworkers are offended at my rudeness but when they are offended at my godliness.
Equipped with a definition of persecution, Greg leads his readers to identify persecution worldwide and "Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body" (Heb 13:3). Persecution, Cochran explains, is the high cost of following Jesus and accompanies Christians wherever they are throughout history. Cochran closely follows biblical texts to show how God reveals that persecution is part of his plan and has been instrumental in spreading the faith and cultivating the righteousness of Christians. It fulfills prophecies, provides a witness, accomplishes God's mission, and produces strong faith. The Bible is clear that the testing of faith is to be considered a joy because it causes growth toward perfection of faith for those who respond in faith (see Ro 5:4; Jas 1:2-5). Cochran closes his book with further implications and applications regarding comfort in persecution and social justice.
Cochran's book succeeds in conveying a much needed exposition of the role of persecution in daily life and the worldwide church. Readers will walk away from this book with an eagerness to spread the good news, a readiness to face persecution in their own daily life, and an increased sense of solidarity with Christians worldwide. Pastors who read this book will also find encouragement and instruction on how to equip their church to endure, oppose, and share in persecution at home and abroad.