Friday, March 9, 2012

"Light" Persecution

Jesus told us up front that persecution would be the norm for his people, 2Ti 3:12  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  Both history and the daily news show that this has indeed been how we glorify God on earth.  Part of answering the call to Christ is to count the costs of discipleship and a person who is not willing to forsake all and to give up his life for Christ is not worthy of Christ.

In places of dire persecution people who name the name of Christ have given up much in property, comfort and even their lives for the cause of Christ.  But I want to focus our attention on places such as America where persecution is mostly light and seldom means the loss of anything of value.  I think our tendency is to think of persecution primarily in terms of physical suffering, the loss of property and perhaps death led by organized opposition to our Faith.  We no doubt have thought to ourselves that if the Lord wills this for us we trust him to give us grace to answer the call and to be faithful to the end no matter what the costs.

But by defining persecution as what is going on in other places we forget that persecution in some form or another is going on all around us and is in fact happening to each and every one of us.  It seems this sometimes causes us to view what we go through a little differently but with much different results.  We talk of being willing to give our lives for Jesus if facing imminent death but what do we do in the face of much lighter persecution?  What do we do when we know that standing for the Bible in front of those we work with will no doubt mean we will be belittled, made fun of, marginalized and ostracized?  There has been no talk of being fired let alone have any death threats been made against us but how often are we ready to compromise at the drop of a hat?

Severe persecution has a way of purifying the church but it seems clear that the absence of real persecution leaves us weak, why is this?  I wonder if it is in part that we don't look at such things as an opportunity to honor the Lord but rather as a loss of our God-given, American rights.  Somehow we look at being made fun of at school or losing the respect of a family member as inconsequential.  It seems that the light persecution should be taken a lot more seriously than we sometimes do.  Perhaps we need to be looking at everything as an opportunity to honor the Lord instead of only our churches services or life threatening situations.

The souls all around us are just as lost as those that are hacking Christians to death in Africa or imprisoning them in China.  Watching us cave at the least little inconvenience is making just as strong a statement to them of your love for Christ as those in Africa only the statement is saying Christ isn't our first love.  If we are unwilling to be made fun of by our friends or to be considered ignorant and old fashion and irrelevant by our families will anyone believe that we will be willing to give our lives up for Him?

In no way am I equating the persecution that some are going through in many places with what we go through here in America.  But let's use what the Lord gives us.  We have just as many opportunities to honor him before the world as anyone else.  They don't call on us to make the same degree of sacrifice but that doesn't mean we can waltz through life without taking seriously the different ways the Lord gives us to honor him.  One can only imagine what someone who has been thrown out of is house for Christ, perhaps beaten and spat upon while others just laugh would think if he were to come over here and sees how upset we get if someone looks at us funny.

Think of how many times we have remained silent when someone has said something disparaging about Christ or another saint.  We were given a perfect opportunity to identify ourselves as Christ's and we just sit there because we might be looked down on.  Let's at least be honest and admit that we are a weak, sinful, and a needy people whose love for the Lord many times is way too hard to detect.  Paul wasn't ashamed of the gospel of Christ but too often I am.  Maybe this is one reason why there is no revival in America.  We have abandoned the public arena to the enemies of Christ because we aren't willing to suffer persecution.

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