Because Christians Love those Who Hate Them, They Flourish Under Persecution
In the second century an unknown Christian wrote a letter to his pagan friend Diognetus to explain to him why Christians are different and how God has both delivered them from sin and brought them to eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His Son.
To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world but cannot be identified with the world. For as the invisible soul is contained within a visible body, so also Christians live in the world but are not part of the world.
The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its self-indulgence. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its pleasures. All the same, the soul loves the flesh and all its members, despite their hatred for her; and Christians, too, love those who hate them. The soul, shut up inside the body, nevertheless holds the body together; and though they are confined within the world as in a prison, it is Christians who hold the world together.
The soul, though immortal, must have a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the high post of duty in which God has placed them, and it is their moral duty not to shrink from it.
Have you not seen Christians flung to the wild beasts to make them deny their Lord, and yet remaining undefeated? Do you not see how the more of them suffer such punishments, the larger grows the number of the rest? These things do not look like the work of man; they are the power of God, and the evident tokens of His presence.
Letter to Diognetus (2nd century)
1 Peter 3:8-17 J
Heavenly Father, you anointed your Son Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit and with power to bring to us the blessings of your kingdom: Anoint your Church with the same Holy Spirit, that we who share in his suffering and his victory may bear witness to the gospel of salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.