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Persecution Free Christianity

 

Romans 12:14

"Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not."

There has been much concern in the world about the persecution towards people of various faiths. The issue has recently focused on the persecution of Christians, although closer scrutiny would reveal that many claiming to be Christian are not. 

Over the last few weeks there have been many messages and articles circulating among Christians which express these concerns about religious persecution. In response to these messages there has also been research revealing the true motives behind these articles and messages. Among the information is the push for American legislation to protect Christians from persecution. The names behind the push for legislation are well-known "religious right" leaders, many of whom are also involved in behind the scenes groups forming world alliances for peace. All is not as it seems.

On Sunday, November, 15, 1998 many of these same leaders promoted and took part in an the ecumenically minded International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which was originally initiated in 1996 by the World Evangelical Fellowship. 

On another front, persecution was reported regarding Christian websites being dumped or dealt with differently on such search engines as AOL, or Geo-cities. I couldn't help but wonder at the responses to all these issues. Christians, from leadership to lay person, are responding with indignation and wrath towards those that persecute or cause us inconvenience in any form. The rallying cry becomes unite; fight; we have our rights too; and stop the persecution against Christians. Some would go so far as to rally to arms, depending on the depths of persecution being suffered.

Religious leaders such as James Dobson and Chuck Colson are appalled at the "apathy" they feel is being displayed from "Christians" regarding this matter. They seem to feel Christians are failing in their duties if they do not protest vigorously against various atrocities and persecutions. These leaders see these acts of persecution as offensive and contrary to their goal of world peace and the world's acceptance of Christianity. They also want people to take political action in some form. Christians are therefore looked down upon because they have not embraced and fulfilled the expectations and actions these men have put forth. For Chuck Colson See: Evangelicals and Catholics Together

What is disturbing is the attitudes displayed by the many religious leaders such as James Dobson. According to one report Dr. Dobson's April 1997 newsletter lavished all manner of praise on the efforts of CFR agents, A.M Rosenthal, Michael Horowitz & Nina Shea on behalf of persecuted Christians while expressing contempt for Christian churches which he believes could care less about their own martyrs:

"It isn't just our spiritual leaders who have denied the tragedy. Who can explain the lack of outrage evident among so many Christian churches in Western democracies?"

The ecumenical nature of the rallying cry also comes through many leaders like James Dobson who applaud such people as A.M. Rosenthal, a non-Christian, who also decried this "apathy" in his column in The New York Times. He wrote:

"A few clergymen and their religious organizations try to arouse congregations. But astonishingly few, compared not only with the spread of the persecution, but what could be done to fight it, if the political, religious, business and press leaders of the world had the will and courage. "If I were a Christian, I would complain that Christian leaders, political, religious and business, around the world have failed in their obligations to fight oppression of their co-religionists..."

The whole evaluation of whether these people view us as caring about others seems to rest on our outward expression of political involvement or stated outrage. Failure to express these leads to their contempt or anger for not listening to their course of action.

Romans 12:17

"Recompense no man evil for evil..."

1 Peter 2:1

"Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,"

Matthew 5:22

"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosover shall say to his brother, Ra-ca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."

Should we be rallying, protesting and demanding the State or the United Nations intervene to write and enforce laws that "may" stop persecution towards us? Can measures like this actually provide the peace that is desired? Can that remove unwarranted persecution against Christians and whoever appears to take the brunt of hate and persecution in a particular situation or country? God's Word always provides the sound insights regarding this and any matter that has to do with living for Him.

The Bible speaks of the attitude and responses Jesus taught we are to have towards persecutions.

Matthew 5:10-12

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

Matthew 5:44

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust."

1 Peter 4:12-14,16

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified... Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."

Some say that it is wrong to allow people to be killed, tortured, ridiculed or persecuted in any way for their beliefs. Christians, however, have a clear course for understanding persecution. We are not to view persecution as wrong or something to be feared. We are to view it as part of God's plan for our lives, and to count it a blessing to suffer for our Lord. Jesus and the apostles wrote these guidelines for us out of their own experiences of being persecuted. We can trust that they truly knew the depths of persecution and the significance it plays in a persons life.

Jesus by far underwent persecution far above anyone else. His response is noteworthy and clearly something to be remembered, as the servants are not above the Master.

John 18:35-36 we read in verse 35

"Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?"

36. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

Jesus is speaking in:

John 15:18-21

" If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not Him that sent me."

 John 16:33

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Paul is speaking:

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body."

1 Corinthians 4:9-14

"For I think that God hath set forth us as the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you."

Jesus clearly stated that we would not only be persecuted and hated for His Name, but that we should expect it. If we are not being persecuted in some form, but rather loved by the world, it should be cause for alarm as to whom our hearts belong to. We are told that even if we suffer much, we must endure to the end. To endure means to have the power to put up with, or bear pain or hardship for the duration--until the end. It means that if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, we will rest in Him regardless of circumstances, easy or difficult.

Matthew 10:23

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."

Mark 13:13

" And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."

Luke 6:26

"Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets."

When we come face to face with persecution, we are to deal with it in a certain manner. If we are being obedient to God's word, we will prayerfully be prepared for that time. God promises He will be with us and provide the needed responses and will sustain us. We must choose whether we are going to respond with our trust and obedience in Him or not.

Luke 6:27-29

"But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also."

Luke 21:12-13

"But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony.

Luke 21:14-19

"Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls."

Some are deeply offended and angry when persecution takes place. The reaction is to retaliate in one way or another. They desire their "rights" and are not willing to lose any of their "possessions", but would rather rally and try to force some confrontation with the issue, and obtain what they feel are their just dues. Some seem to feel that to suffer in any manner goes against being a Christian. Many want to be accepted and treated the same as non-believers. We are not the same. We belong to God.

If we become offended or retaliate, we are being disobedient. These actions can also point to something more than just disobedience, maybe also a turning away from God.

Matthew 13:20-21

"But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended."

The Bible speaks of the end times and how Christians will indeed be persecuted. Jesus Christ our Lord was persecuted as were the apostles and those who followed Christ throughout the ages. Things have not changed, nor are we better than they were. We know that when persecutions come, it can happen through people we know, and sadly also through relatives. The Bible speaks about the fact that many will fall away because of tribulations and persecution because they have not been grounded in the Word and faith in Him. Through all these trials we must not be dissuaded from our beliefs and obedience to the word of God.

Matthew 24:9-10

"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another."

Mark 4:16-17

"And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended."

Romans 2:7-9

"To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile."

Jesus prayed for the apostles and all believers in this way in John 17.

John 17:14-17

"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

Luke 12: 4-5

"And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell: yea I say unto you, Fear Him."

Many are using the rallying cry of "Peace" to try to stop persecution. We know that there can be no peace on this earth, nor can we intervene or stop the persecution by legislating away what God Himself tells us to expect and rejoice in. To promote otherwise, is to teach things that are not scriptural, and to lead people with a lie. Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries said this.

"Well, American Christians need to make it clear we will not tolerate "peace" paid for by the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ."


Isaiah 48:22

"There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked."

Matthew 10:34

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

Luke 12:51

"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:"

Ezekiel 13:10

"Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar."

Jeremiah 7:14

"They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace."

We know that our time on earth is not long. Eternity is what we are to look to. We are not to have an attitude of resentment or hate towards persecution or those that dispense it. We know that God is with us and in the end, will deal justly with all.

We are to stay committed to Him and obedient. We are to remember that those that reject Him, will be lost forever. Those that persecute us must be prayed for: by doing so, opportunity may come for that person to realize, just as Paul did, that they are persecuting those who belong to God. God may allow them time to repent, but it is in His hands. If opportunity is provided we must speak whatever God would have us speak, and perhaps through that, some might be saved. We must not avenge ourselves, but pray for those that are lost. We must also pray that all that belong to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be strengthened, and that we will all trust in Him to enable us to endure to the end.

Romans 12:19

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

Ephesians 6:18

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching there unto with all perseverance and supplication for the saints.

Philippians 4:6,7

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Philippians 1: 27-29

"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;"

We will never be abandoned in our time of need. It would be pointless to think that man can change what God has allowed and put in motion. He promises He will never leave nor forsake us. He also promises to provide all that is necessary to stay the course and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are one in the Body of Christ. We suffer and ache when we hear our brothers and sisters are persecuted and suffering, just as we rejoice with them, when we hear of them rejoicing. To suggest we feel less, shows lack of knowledge and understanding of the nature of the Body of Christ.

Hebrews 13:3

"Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."

The issue is not how to stop persecution. The issue is recognizing that persecution will indeed happen if we belong to Him. That understanding leads to depending on Him as to how we deal with those circumstances and allowing Christ to be glorified through it all... or not.

John 15:18

" I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."

2 Corinthians 1:3- 7

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation."

Hebrews 13:6

"So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

1 Peter 3: 13-15

"And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing."

 

All Scripture Quotes taken from the Authorized King James Bible

Copyright . All articles are the sole property of SeekGod.ca and Vicky Dillen. All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated.

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