On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. (Acts 8:1b NIV)
In the first few chapters of Acts, the church is described as growing rapidly. There was some opposition, but it did little to dampen the spirit of the early believers.
Then came the killing of Stephen and the rise of an intense effort to eradicate the church. At first glance, this might seem to have been a bad thing. We certainly would not have welcomed it. But as you read through Acts, you will discover that this was a positive event in the church’s life rather than a negative one.
In Acts 8:4 and Acts 11:19-20, we read that those who were scattered when this great persecution broke out preached the word wherever they went, including to Gentiles. Rather than a single body of believers gathered in Jerusalem, the church began to spread throughout the world. The persecution that Saul led, rather than stamping out the church, caused it to spread, resulting in the church fulfilling the commission Jesus left in Acts 1:8 to be his witnesses throughout the world.
I believe that what was true for that early church in Jerusalem is just as true for the church today. So long as we are faithful as the church of Christ, no opposition raised against us will succeed (Is. 54:17). God can use even the actions of those opposing us to advance his kingdom. Rather than moaning about our treatment, we should follow the apostles’ example, rejoicing that we have been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for Jesus and continue actively serving him (Acts 5:41-42).