Sunday, July 23, 2017

Persecuted Christians in America???

“Christ’s followers cannot expect better treatment in the world than their Master had.”  Matthew Henry

  Does broad brush labeling bother you? Do you hate it when someone accuses you, just because you’re a Christian and have a certain worldview, of being “hateful” or “phobic”? One has to wonder – do those outside the Church really believe that Christians don emotional hazmat suits because we’re petrified that we might encounter someone who is a “sinner”?
  It’s frustrating when we’re caricatured by untrue broad brush labels like “hateful” and “phobic.” Yet, I find that we Christians do the same thing. We throw out broad brush terms. One that I believe we far too easily use is the word “persecuted.” It is true that things have changed in America and Western Culture. Religious freedom that we’ve taken for granted is being attacked. Personally, though, I have a hard time calling it persecution…maybe marginalized, but not persecuted.  
  Do we really believe liberals, feminists, those in the media or Hollywood are all the “enemy?” I don’t. I have Christian friends who’d probably be classified as liberals or feminists. Though I don’t personally know anyone in Hollywood, I know that there are Christians there, people who love Jesus just like you and I do. Do I believe that some of those who would be classified “liberals” are wrong? Yes, and when we get to Heaven, God will straighten them out (just kidding J). My point is that there are those who love the Lord and who are committed Christians in nearly every career field with various ideologies. They don’t all dot their “i’s” like we do.
  Yet, sadly, you’ll hear Christians, particularly in the “Christian” media whine about how Christianity is under attack and we’re being persecuted. While I’d agree that “persecution” is taking place in some isolated places in America, to be called a “naughty” name isn’t exactly what Scripture means when it talks about persecution. We need to stop saying that liberalism or other ideologies are a threat to Christianity, because they’re not. A threat to what? To somehow make Christianity untrue? Do we really believe Christianity or biblical truth is built on some sort of strawman and needs us to protect its validity?
  Too many Christians are paralyzed by fear. We talk about how liberalism or Hollywood are threats to Christianity. Compelling cases are made for why Christians should devote money, time or other resources to protect Christianity against these growing and seemingly innumerable threats.
  First, truth does not fear scrutiny. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the life” (John 14:6). Evil men who have sought to destroy God’s truth, repeatedly find themselves crushed underneath its weight. His truth is inescapable. Even our conscience has His truth stamped on it with a sense of what is moral, and what is right or wrong (Romans 2:14-15).  
  Second, fear is not of God. To be afraid, to view that anything could be a threat to Christianity implies that, somehow, Christianity could be put on some type of “endangered religions” list, or that Christians could become extinct altogether. It’s a lie fueled by hearts which have made power and influence idols.
  Christianity’s dominance in Western culture is not what legitimizes it. While it’s true, Christian dominance is being overshadowed by other religions and worldviews, the Christian faith is not dependent on cultural dominance to prove its validity, but by the dominion of our eternal, glorious God. God has not called us to be Crusaders, but rescue workers. When we claim some individual or group is threatening Christianity, it’s an insult to our omnipotent God. For God, competing worldviews are nothing. Christianity doesn’t have to be a popular worldview to be the right one.
  Personally, I’d have a hard time in heaven looking fellow believers in the eye who were beheaded by ISIS and then complain I was persecuted because I was called names or treated like I was some wacko. It’d be hard to complain that the Supreme Court taking away the right to pray or have a Bible study in a public school is persecution to believers who whispered songs in their worship services so they’d not be heard and arrested.
  Persecution is when the government, as we find in North Korea and other communist countries, seeks to control all religious thought and expression as part of a comprehensive plan to control all aspects of life. These governments regard religious groups as enemies of the state because they hold religious beliefs that contradict political ideology and challenge loyalty to the rulers. Persecution is when basic human rights are taken away, when Christians aren’t allowed freedom of expression, assembly, religious belief and movement. It’s when believers are executed for their faith, detained or tortured. As has been the case since the birth of the Church, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ live under governments who restrict or abuse religious freedom. Christians suffer deeply and are denied basic freedoms that all human beings should be entitled to.
  It is rare for us to face real persecution in Western culture. Being unpopular is not persecution. We need to develop some spiritual backbone. 
  Personally, I am amazed and humbled that fellow believers facing persecution rarely ask us to pray that their persecution will end. Instead, they beg us to please pray that they will be faithful and stand strong for Jesus through the persecution. They’re primary concern is not to be delivered, but instead to persevere in the trials they face in a way worthy of King Jesus. It’s time for us to stop whining and follow their example! 

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