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Turmoil, Part 2

March 10, 2011

The inevitable next question, or maybe bigger question, has to be: What is our faith in a free society?

Was Christianity designed to function outside of persecution? I mean, ideally, yes. And I know one day the persecution will end, while the relationships between the Father and His children will continue. I know there was no persecution at the very beginning, obviously.

Maybe I mean “discipleship.” Maybe I have no idea what I mean.

But I do know that Jesus made a good effort to prepare His followers for persecution. He said if the world hated Him, it would hate us too. He said that a student is not better than his master. He said if non-believers kill Him, they’d do worse to us. Throughout the New Testament we’re told to prepare ourselves to suffer for the name of Jesus, and even to rejoice when it happens because it means we’ve been counted worthy of it.

Are Christians in the West not suffering persecution because we’re not worthy to “suffer for His Name”?

I don’t want to be jailed, beaten and/or murdered for my faith. I have a natural aversion to pain. But neither do I want Him to shrug at me and say, “You weren’t worthy.” I’m alright not being Moses. I can live with not being an apostle or having a huge ministry. Those thing are given. But “worthy” implies reward for effort.

And what is our faith in the midst of prosperity?

People don’t need supernatural healing. We think it’s nice when it happens because it saves us a co-pay, but we don’t need it like people need it in India. People probably need deliverance, but they don’t know it and they wouldn’t believe it if you told them. We medicate our broken hearts with prescription drugs and consumerism, and we work so much that the idea of a heavenly Father is more frightening than comforting.

Comfortable, free people don’t think they need God. It seems, after 2000 years, the principalities and powers have figured out how to neutralize the threat of Christianity: legalize it.

And if that’s true, how do we pray for the persecuted Church? We want their pain to be alleviated. We want their suffering to stop. We want their governments to recognize their basic human rights, and fight to protect them from unnecessary violence. What if all those prayers were answered? Would the Church, worldwide, be neutered?

I got the March issue of Voice of the Martyrs last week. The country in focus this month is Burma, where – like in so many other places – Christians are being systematically hunted. One believer and evangelist, who calls himself Peter, is quoted:

“My prayer is for facing severe persecution in Burma for the Christian,” Peter said, “so that the church will grow faster and we may face a revival.”

How many of us pray that prayer? I know I don’t. And yet, so much scripture promises that Jesus will purify His Church before He comes, “so that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing …” (Eph 5:27).

How do we pray for the persecuted Church? How do we pray for ourselves?

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 12:13 pm

    I’ve been asking myself some similar questions lately. Along with a group of others, I’ve been reading through the New Testament each month this year and I keep being confronted with those verses about expecting to be hated. I’ve wondered if I’m really living as a true follower of Jesus if nobody hates me?? Jesus says that if everyone likes you, you should actually be kind of worried, since everybody liked the false prophets and it was the true prophets who were persecuted. Sometimes I wonder if the only way the Church will be purified and refined before Jesus returns is by going through great trial and persecution from the Anti-Christ? I totally hear what you’re saying and I think one of the greatest prayers we might pray is simply that we will stand strong in the face of persecution and that we will overcome and be found faithful to the end.

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