At a break from work today I was glancing through a commentary on the First Epistle to the Thessalonians by James Denney (a volume in the English series The Expositor's Bible)
Paul was confirming his correspondents' election of God in the following words:
5For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
6And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.
To undergo affliction for the Word's sake with supernatural joy! A very strong sign of the deposit of Christ within an individual. That peculiar privilege of sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings, and for righteousness' sake.
We are told that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution". (2 Timothy 3:12). Not to launch a sordid campaign to invite or attract censure and leering looks! But in a grasping world where success is everything and the end always justifies the means, the meek and gentle servant spirit of Jesus will again evoke the cries, "Crucify him!" It just happens.
Jesus saw that spirit rising up strong and ugly in Jerusalem when he clearly stipulated that his sort of Kingdom was not an instant trip to the winner's circle. He told his disciples what lay ahead for Him in redemption's curious agenda:
17And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,
18Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,
19And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
Note:I am thoroughly convinced that just as in the days of the Roman arena, persecutors of the Gospel will come to realize the evil and the error of their campaign and turn in large numbers to the King of Kings.