Sunday, February 19, 2012

Humbly Enduring Persecution
It has become quite fashionable in these last days to complain about persecution and to fight political fire with political fire. When the government seems to come against our Biblical beliefs, the church suddenly rises up in indignation and gathers its forces to do political and legislative battle. No longer content to endure persecution with humility and patience, the church morphs into a democratic force and arises to the battle.
When our religious rights have been violated, we speak loudly with condemnation and appeal to the Constitution as if persecution is something new to God’s people. The fellowship of His sufferings is something very unpleasant and not on the usual prayer menu. And since we live in a democracy, the church now employs carnal weapons in order to alleviate any discomfort or restrictions. Paul and Silas pray their way out of jail, and then refuse to leave when the doors pop open. Today we call our representative or our Senator and voice our complaint/concern. It never occurs to us to go to jail for Christ.
And so in the west you have different religious forces that guard their rights with a ballot box in one hand and the Constitution in the other. And not content with just being a voting block, the church over the years has given birth to many additional political organizations. Morals and the family are usually the cornerstones of these politically religious movements. And without intent, these political organizations remove the gospel focus and do battle on the political, moral, and democratic battlefield.
But let us consider something. Throughout the New Testament the Scriptures deal with the reality of slaves. And instead of recommending a revolt, or at least a spoken protest, the Spirit directs slaves who know Christ to obey their masters with humility and integrity so that their masters might see Christ in them. What an astounding spiritual directive! It does not mean that slavery was right in God’s sight, but it does shine a light on just what kind of sacrifice our lives should be.
Eph.6:5-6 - Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Col.3:22-23 - Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;
23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
I Tim.6:1 - Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
Ti.2:9-10 - Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
I Pet.2:18-19 - Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. (harsh and unreasonable)
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
ook at these verses. Let the magnitude of their instruction sink deep into your spirit. These are not some situational ethics or some minor moral dilemmas. These verses exhort slaves to serve their masters with heartfelt virtuousness and authenticity. Can you imagine such a thing in these days of “I demand my rights!”? The average believer has trouble working for less pay than he or she deems to be appropriate, much less to work with honor as a slave so that Christ can be magnified.
Where have we gone wrong? And when did it become unbiblical to suffer in unfair and unjust circumstances so that Christ might be glorified and made manifest to a lost world? Take a step back and see a wider perspective. Living in a democracy has robbed us of the glory of persecution for Christ’s sake. The slightest governmental incursion into our so called democratic rights is cause for a call to political arms, without even considering the possibility that Christ may desire us to be persecuted and if necessary go to prison for our faith.
As soon as we engage in the political war with carnal weapons we have removed any vestiges of humility and it is no longer about Christ, but it is now about us. Slaves are commanded to be humble and obedient, but free believers can get embroiled in the fallen game of political leverage? And instead of obeying the clear teaching of God’s word we can instead appeal to a fallen document called the Constitution? Please, the Constitution is not our guide or even our concern. The Word of God is our mandate and to its dictates and directions we must bow, joyfully.
The recent suggestion that the current administration is engaging in an attack on religion is true. But what is left out of that statement is that all governments are at odds with Christianity and are used of the evil one to surreptitiously dilute the power of Christ. And sometimes the ones that seem the friendliest to our faith are the most dangerous. Woe to the church that yokes itself with a fallen government and its fallen kingdom. Surely we as believers must anticipate persecution and we must endure it with humility, faith, and joy. The machinations of men and their governments are not our concern or our calling. The gospel is our mandate, and we must not let the seeming good derail the glory and the power of the message of Christ.
I Pet.4:12-13 - Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 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.
h what a privilege it is to suffer for His name’s sake. Do not let democracy swallow up that glorious privilege. Oh that our lives were so filled with Christ that persecution was more greatly warranted. And if we are commanded by law not to do something God has commanded us to do, let us treat it as a holy sacrifice unto our Great God and let us humbly, yet openly, defy the law. And if the law forbids us to do something God has told us to do, then like Daniel let us fling open the window and humbly on our knees let us obey God.
There may come a day when we are hauled away because of our steadfast faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That, my friends, would be a royal honor. Let us humbly prepare our hearts to do whatever the Lord asks of us. And let us not be entangled with the affairs of this world, but let us present our bodies a living sacrifice before God. O Lord, do with us what would most glorify You.


Richard Ludwigson Jr said...

Yes Lord count me worthy to suffer for your name.

Ronfire said...

You know, I never ever thought I would be able to find a true believer in America to say what you have just said. I'm not from America, as you may have guessed and it troubles me no end how hung up America - and, Australia, where I live - seem to think that Western culture = Christian faith, and any challenge to the Western way of life (whether good or bad) is a challenge to the Christian faith. Thank you for speaking the truth. I'm sure you're very popular with most of your fellow American believers. Never mind, your reward is stored up for you in heaven.

Anonymous said...

I just read with dismay a story of a Chinese house church pastor who is suing the police officers who arrested him (they arrested him for unlawful public assembly), after he had gathered with fellow Christians in China. So, the yeast from the West is apparently making its way through the eastern dough.

Around the time of the BP oil spill, I heard about a small Assemblies of God church in that area adding their church to the BP oil spill law suit to recover a decrease in offering collections due to decreased attendance.

Whatever happened to the notion of turning the other cheek?

Both events point to the same things: lack of faith in a Holy God to provide whatever is needed to His Church and lack of mercy toward the unsaved who harm solely out of ignorance.

Where is the cry:

"Father, forgive them. They don't know what they do."

Thank you for pointing these things out.

Anonymous said...

And has anyone continually noticed, as I have, that those (especially in the media) who rail the most against anyone so much as saying "boo" to an American Christian are themselves living the most slovenly, grossly un-Christlike lives (drinking, smoking, cussing, etc.)?