Hebrews 12: 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
The church in America is largely weak and feeble. It whines and complains at the faintest slights of the world. We think we are persecuted when Target stores say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” We become offended. We are not really being persecuted, no, not by a long shot. The last time I looked, no Christian has shed his blood in America for his faith: perhaps, except for the Christians of our church in Charleston, South Carolina. That shooting is not only about race, and is certainly not about about guns, prayer in schools, the decline of culture, the death penalty or politics”. The shooter apparently justified his killing nine Christians, because of race, but, he did not go to the mall and shoot African Americans, or a bar, or a theater, or a night club. He went to a church.
In many countries of the world, the church is not directly destroyed or persecuted by the government, but the governments instead turn a blind eye to church burnings and the slaughter of Christians in somewhat Democratic nations such as Indonesia and Egypt.
What should a Christians response be to the growing boldness of unbelievers in this country?
First, we are not to be surprised: “ Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” (I John 3:13), but rather we should expect persecution, for as they treated Jesus, so they will treat you (also See John 15:18)
Second, we should leave it in the Lord’s hands. God has promised to punish those who persecute the church (Deuteronomy 30:7). But it is not ours to punish those who hate the church. In fact, we are to pray for our enemies and warn them, so that they might be converted (See Romans 12:14)
Fourth, we should not whine, but consider ourselves blessed: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:11). We tend to applaud or feel sorry for those who choose to close their cake-making or wedding photography business to avoid “persecution” brought on by an American legal system that is now saying they must provide these services for gay “marriages”. But, would we commend those who would stop preaching the law of God or the gospel, under the same threat of punishment? Or would it be better to pray the deliverance of those who refuse to alter their preaching. If we choose to do the right thing, then should we not also be prepared to suffer for it?
We sometimes complain, because we are under the illusion that we are a Christian nation and that we ought not to have to suffer for our faith. I’ve dealt with this question before. For all practical purposes, it is no longer a winning argument in the courts. They are simply not going to accept our religious arguments as legal arguments, whether is it about homosexual marriage or abortion. And, if we are not a Christian nation, we can’t win a legal argument that way. What are we to do? We can appeal to the consciences of our political leaders, by using the Word of God and we can pray for a revival. In the meantime we can try to make worldly arguments. Either way, we are not guaranteed worldly success.
This desire for the love from the world is why we thrill when a Christian entertainer or athlete makes the name of Jesus known, or they make it “big time”, When those same Christians fail to live up to the hype, we then have egg on our faces. We, meanwhile. fear to even share the gospel with our neighbor. We have this desire to be part of the “in” crowd and have celebrity Christians do the heavy lifting.
We have it wrong in politics, too. We think that God is only Glorified with successful political campaigns or when Christians win. Scriptures teach otherwise:
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
This is a glorious time that we live in.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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