Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who are the Real Soldiers for Christ
Many of us as believing followers of Jesus Christ happen to live in a country called America. As such we are to obey the laws of the land, and if any law is against the teachings of our faith we are called to obey God rather than man. But as much as we can we should strive to live in peace and humility, modeling and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For the most part we have the freedom here to share the gospel as the Spirit directs us. To be sure all of us do not use that freedom to preach and share as often as we should. But in recent times there has arisen a Christian sect that positions themselves squarely within the political theatre and are prepared to both be offended and to organize some kind of assault at the slightest hint of persecution, or what passes as persecution these days. And with that structure in place almost anything the government does is met with umbrage and a sense of outraged entitlement.
Just recently the government desires to pass a hate crimes bill which is supposed to make any crime committed against someone because of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation of a more serious nature. It seems as if the motive is correct. But some Christians are all up in arms about it since, for one reason, they believe they may be restricted in their speech and preaching. Of course that interpretation of this bill is another opportunity to express outrage, even if it turns out to be inaccurate. But let us investigate further into what we as believers are called to even when the laws of the land are not what we would desire (which is most of the time).
Here is a news report about preachers going to Capitol Hill to protest this bill since they believe it will restrict them in teaching and preaching the Bible. Now these preachers and other bloggers like you know who are tossing and turning in their sleep over this hate crime bill. Of course it must seem peculiar that followers of Jesus are against laws about hate crimes, but there is something even more disturbing. These Christians are bemoaning the fact that they may not be able to say that homosexuality is wrong. That interpretation is dubious at best and is in the same neighborhood as “Madeline Murray O’Hare is getting all religious programs banned from the airwaves”. Some Christians love to cry “Wolf!”
Let us assume for the moment that the government passed a bill that stated no one could preach the gospel anymore. What would be our response? Would we protest and write our representatives? Would we call Obama the antichrist? Would we wail and bemoan our persecution and would we quote the “founding fathers” as proof of the Christian roots of America? Or should we do as did Daniel when after he had heard the decree that no one should pray to any God but King Darius lest he be thrown to the lions? Daniel went right away to the upper chamber in his house and with the windows opened he prayed to Jehovah as he did three times a day.
Where was the outrage? Where was Daniel’s petition? Where was his impassioned “we’re losing our rights” speech? The principle is this: If the government passes a law that restricts your expression as a believer then we are called to humbly do what God has commanded and be willing to suffer the consequences for His name’s sake. All these “The British are coming!” blogs are nothing more than complaining forums and in fact bemoan the very persecution Christ told us would come and Peter said we should endure it with patience and humility. Some Christians lead a lifestyle of complaining about their circumstances, even in the midst of unimaginable wealth and prosperity.
The greatest thing that ever happened to the Chinese church was governmental persecution. But we in America deem it our inalienable right to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which is the humanist manifesto. We as believing followers have no rights, just privileges. And one of the greatest privileges that can be afforded a follower of Jesus Christ is to suffer persecution for His name sake. Why then do so many complain and murmur about the smallest of issues including wearing a “One Nation Under God” pin? Do we even know what genuine persecution is, and are we willing to suffer any indignity for Christ’s sake with humility and joy?
And some blogs are information stations that do nothing but inform the continually outraged masses of the current set of torturous persecutions. We have morphed into a multitude of squawkers who resist the slightest suffering and lean on a constitution rather than the Supreme Sovereign. How will the world ever see Jesus in us if we continue to meld into the faceless crowd of political lobbyists, all of which clamor for their particular issue? When we use the same weapons as does the kingdom of darkness can we expect people to ask us about the hope that lies within us; the hope that should guide our attitude and lifestyle?
Here is an account of authentic Christianity in the face of genuine persecution:
In the winter of 320 AD, the Emperor Licinius, who was emporer of the East, broke his agreement with Constantine, Emperor of the West, in the Edict of Milan to end the persecution of Christians. Lucinius ordered all Roman soldiers to renounce Christianity and to offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods. Licinius was persecuting Christians at this time. His edict reached the Thundering Legion at Sabaste, and the order was passed down to the legionaries. Forty Christians in the legion withstood threats, beatings, and torture and refused to obey the edict, choosing instead to obey a higher authority:
"You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them"
In retaliation, the legion marched the men to a frozen lake where they were ordered to remove their armor and clothing and stand naked, as a form of torture to death, on a frozen lake. The legion lit a large fire on the shore with a warm bath and food to tempt the Christians to make the pagan sacrifice, renounce their Christian faith, and save their lives.
The commander told them, "You may come ashore when you are ready to deny your faith."
The men began to pray,
"O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for Thee.
Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!"
The mother of the youngest legionary was present, and she enticed her son to abandon the others. There was a centurion named Sempronius on the shore at the warm house. On the ice, the remaining Christian legionaries continued to cry out,
"O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for thee. Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!"
In response, Centurion Sempronius confessed Jesus as Christ, removed his armor, weapons, and clothing, and joined the 39 remaining Christians on the lake. The next morning the Forty Martyrs of Sabaste were found on the ice and forever recorded their faithful resistance in the annals of history.
Notice they called themselves “wrestlers” even though they did not resist suffering for Christ! They knew that suffering persecution for the sake of our Blessed Lord and Savior is a sacred calling and an opportunity to preach Christ powerfully through their triumphant victory gained through the prism of suffering, and in this case, death. How holy is this account!! Does it not bring conviction to our hearts, we who murmur with the slightest irritation? Against this true story and others like it, how can we claim the same Christ as did they when we are engaged in resisting the smallest amount of cultural discomfort and we confront it with outrage and spiritual pique?
And when the centurion saw their courage and their surrendered will, he became a follower of Jesus Christ and his first act of worship was his death. What do the governmental centurions see in us today? What would ever make them evaluate the claims of Christ when his followers balk at inconvenience and are unwilling to bear the consequences of spiritual persecution? Those that walk in darkness see that so many Christians are just like they are, and just have a different point of view but surely not a different way of life.
We are pitiful as we set about to set ourselves as offspring of the true martyrs. But when you hear about some hate crimes bill, overcome hate with the only weapon that we have:
The love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.


mrs k said...

Yes. Keep telling it, my brother.

Anonymous said...

Agreed...BUT I also think some in the Christian community run the danger of having "martyr complex" and boast in seeking out opportunities to be persecuted or to hope for a system in which that would be encouraged.

Just because some people have turned politics into idolatry and have twisted the Gospel does not automatically mean that God has refused to call some of his people to serve in the civil sphere and initiate social change. Nor does it mean that by default, Christians serving in the civil sphere automatically abandon their first love.

I think, within the confines of our current laws and system, we as American citizens have every right to exercise our freedoms and voice our concerns regarding both church and state, so long as we do so without abandoning Christ-like character.

I want to read more about William Wilberforce, the 19th Century Evangelical who was most responsible for bringing about the abolition of British slavery.

A free society such as America gives Christians just as much potential to help advance the kingdom of Christ as much as any other. THINK ABOUT YOUR BLOG! In some countries, your blog would be banned!