The following floated around on Facebook statuses several weeks ago:
Christians are very often persecuted not for their Christianity, but for lack of it.
I have to admit, I was shocked and riled at that sad and ignorant statement. How can a sentence like that even be formulated? What was the thinking behind it? I have some rebuttal, but first, allow me to add perspective.
The Iranian man on trial for refusing to renounce Christ. Suddenly everyone’s talking. Facebook statuses now plead prayer on his behalf. Persecuted for his faith, not the lack of it.
Christian families threatened with lynching in indigenous communities within a day trip from my home. This includes children. Persecuted for their faith, not the lack of it.
Today we travel four hours into the high sierra’s to teach God’s Word in another indigenous community where persecution of Christians is ongoing. In fact, one of the students who will be there pastors the church on the neighboring mountain. Two months ago he was beaten unconscious. That’s the second time in as many months. Persecuted for his faith, not the lack of it.
Yet another of our pastors has planted a church in a village where years ago the first converts to Christ were killed. For their faith, not the lack of it.
Somewhere around the globe today, someone will be persecuted severely, possibly killed for their faith, not the lack of it. Most of their stories don’t make it to prime-time news. Most of those won’t happen anywhere near where you sit reading this.
So from where do oxymoronic (based on the definition of persecution) statements like that come from?
Could it be from the pampered, comfortable and soft “Christian” who doesn’t like being corrected, taught, rebuked, or trained in righteousness? Those things can hurt. Our toes get stepped on and we cry, “Ow, he hurt me. Why am I being persecuted!?”
But it’s not persecution! It’s prodding; provoking you to righteousness. All those things are biblical and the only way to thoroughly equip us for every good work. In other words, it’s the only way to become a useful part in God’s plan to bless the world and redeem it through Jesus Christ. Time to grow up!
Did Jesus persecute Peter when He rebuked him with the, “get thee behind me,” or when he questioned him repeatedly, “do you REALLY love Me?” No, those helped teach and shape Peter into the rock of faith he was to become, the cornerstone of the church. A man who would face persecution and ultimately be hanged upside down on a cross.
Another comment was made that perhaps the statement refers to the (American) Christian church becoming a by-word to many, because it has grown lukewarm. The latter is true in many cases, however, it is not persecution.
There’s more I’d like to say, but I need to sign off since we’re heading out the door soon.
I would like to hear what your opinion is in these matters. Please comment.
And please…pray for the (real) persecuted church today!