"Who are the Christians?"
Christians are the "Followers of Jesus," also known as the "Followers of Christ." Those who have been born again, are filled with God's Holy Spirit and will spend eternity in Heaven.
The first Followers of Jesus, were the twelve Disciples. Jesus personally handpicked them while He was on this earth.
The twelve disciples were:
It is strange that Israel was the only nation expecting the Messiah (Jesus) and yet rejected him when he arrived. John 1:10-11 "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him."
Followers of Christ:
Those who follow the Christian Faith are to pattern their lives after Jesus. They are to be baptized, then love, serve and take the gospel to the world. They must trust in God's promises, and prayerfully abide in Jesus.
Jesus Forewarns His followers:
Just as Jesus faced rejection, even so will his followers should not become discouraged when they are rejected.
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also" (John 16:18-21).
Persecution During Jesus Time:
During Jesus life, the world showed its opposition in the form of harsh words, hostile plots, and violent torture. Many of the early Christians experienced rejection, exclusion, ridicule and even death.
We must not make the mistake of thinking the hatred of the world toward the followers of Christ has disappeared. Today there are Christians imprisoned in over 40 countries for practicing their Faith.
In America Christians are often ridiculed and rejected. In the movies it is not uncommon to see well dressed cowboys riding fine horses along-side a preacher protrayed as an inept bungler, riding a mule or donkey. In truth, our early preachers were intelligent, robust individuals who loved the Lord and were fearless in their pursuit of spreading the gospel.
The Holy Spirit;
The good news is that God did not abandon the followers of Jesus to struggle on their own. The Child of God living according to God's plan and guidance should and can have the richest most fulfilling life there is.
After Jesus death and resurrection He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell, comfort and counsel each of his followers; filling them with peace, joy and hope while enabling them to be strong and faithful despite the world's hostility.
"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you," (John 14:16-17).
Hope and Joy for the Followers of Christ;
Paul said "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what unseen is eternal."(2 Cor 4:16-18)
Paul encouraged the followers of Christ to not lose heart or give up on their eternal reward. This world is not all there is - If you are a Christian, you are a child of God and will inherit eternal>life after death!
Christians can confidently look beyond this brief life with the promise that because Jesus shed his blood on the cross we will spend a glorious eternity with Him in a place where there is unspeakable joy and no suffering, or tears.