Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Responding to Persecution


****THIS IS AN UPDATE****

The man in question was offered a "United We Stand" button that was approved by Home Depot, but he refused. He now has retained an attorney and is planning to sue. This information was left out of the article by the crosstalk blog. This man said, "It feels kind of like a punishment, like I was punished for just loving my country". So in fact the article below also shows how some Christians manipulate a situation to present an incomplete picture to better serve their own interests. The story in the Miami Herald is here. The news source that crosstalk used was Fox News, and a friend told me he informed Mrs. Schlueter in a comment of this additional information. The hope that his comment will be published is not very strong. But as you will read here, the issue isn't whether a Christian can be unjustly persecuted (not like this man), but how are we called to respond.

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Let us address the issue of persecution. I realize that what we western believers call persecution is embarrassing when compared to others around the world, to say nothing of former and present martyrs. But I want us to meditate on Christ’s admonition on how we should respond to persecution. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said:

“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.”

It is unseemly to see all the Christian blogs that complain about so called persecution in America. The fact is that we are not persecuted enough because we do not exhibit the traits of Christ which would generate such persecution. We have been marginalized and institutionalized by political fervor and moral debates, and we are seen as “right wingers” rather than standard bearers of the redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And posts like this baulk at the fellowship of His sufferings.

And even if some legitimate persecution comes our way, we squeal as if we should not have to bear His reproach and sufferings. But as we can see, even the smallest of slights is magnified and results in complaining that the Muslims don’t receive the same bias. Even though every business has a right to dictate certain things, when we are made to remove a profoundly benign vest button that in effect is untrue (One nation under God, indivisible) we are outraged. This so aptly illustrates the nationalistic allegiance that has crept into the church, and the “Princess and the Pea” kind of spiritual discomfort that believers find unbearable.

This button “torture” is only one example of how believers who have allegiances to this country search out every type of perceived Christian persecution or moral deviance and holler loudly about their mistreatment. In that, we are no different than any group that refuses to be defrauded or mischaracterized and organizes and vocalizes their displeasure about the issue with which they disagree. All this is without redemption and projects a Christianity that is foreign to the Bible and unknown to the legitimate martyrs.

I refer you a former post.

The church in America has invented ghost persecutions with which to provide opportunities to complain and whine – when in an embarrassing contrast we are commanded to rejoice and keep:

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

It is past time for the church of Jesus Christ to climb down from the political bleachers that look to pick unredemptive fights and squint to see any if there is any pitiful slights that we can label as afflictions and begin to respond with a verbal outrage that rivals a manager's tirade at an umpire's close call. The button slogan aside (which was written by a preacher with socialist views – “under God” added under Eisenhower), what if the young man would have complied and shared his respect for his superiors? What if he had suffered this directive with humility and forbearance? Is it worth causing strife and staking a claim about a button that elevates a country and speaks nothing of Christ? Even if it was unfair, it was still an opportunity for a believer to show grace and restraint and even humility, which when compared with the button’s slogan, would have been a far greater gospel light.

And let us be crystal clear, even if the button said “Jesus is the Only Way” the young man should have humbly and gracefully acquiesced to their demand. The man was probably sincere, but in his own words he wore the button to “support the troops” not proclaim the gospel. But can’t you see how far we have strayed from Christ honoring attitudes? We live among those who desperately need to see a people who are not caught up in demanding their “rights”, but who present a hope and faith that transcends petty inconveniences with a joyful sacrifice that, when given the opportunity, refuses to run from a freshly opened Philippian jail in order to minister grace to a jailer in need, who instead of listening to outrage and complaining, had heard hymns of joy emanating from that very cell.

Moral outrage and demanding rights is against everything our Master lived and taught.
Let us be outraged at our lacking devotion to our Glorious King,
and let us rejoice in humble gratefulness that we have been counted worthy to suffer for His sake.

3 comments:

Pastorboy said...

I didn't see anywhere on here that this guy was a Christian, or claimed to be one. Lots of people in Florida (and across the US for that matter) Have in God we trust on their bumper stickers etc. and have no idea what it means.

Rick Frueh said...

He read his Bible during lunch, but the pin was to support the troops. Ingrid says, "Pick a god, any god, as long it isn’t the one true God of the Bible." She implies and probably believes the man was a Christian.

Scotty said...

One of Ingrids minions spanked PB again!!