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Persecution

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Said Jesus:

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I have been thinking about the nature of persecution – especially when I read stories about what is going on in some parts of the world:

The 62-year-old Chinese shopkeeper had waited nearly his entire adult life to see his dream of building a church come true — a brick house with a sunny courtyard and spacious hall with room for 200 believers.

But in March, about a dozen police officers and local officials suddenly showed up at the church on his property and made the frightened congregants disperse. They ordered that the cross, a painting of the Last Supper and Bible verse calligraphy be taken down. And they demanded that all services stop until each person, along with the church itself, was registered with the government, said the shopkeeper, Guo.

But that is mild compared to some other places:

Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.

Houses belonging to believers have also been razed with authorities doing little to help, an anti-persecution watchdog claimed.

I read things like that and I get a kind of upset when I hear someone in America say we are persecuted because of things like being forced to limit our speech or insure for abortions.  Not that those things are good – they are in fact very wrong, but they are NOT persecution.  Those things are insulting, demeaning, discriminatory, and they most certainly abrogate our rights as Americans, but they are not persecution.  What is happening in the United States is very different than what is happening elsewhere in the world.  Europe is generally as exceptional as the US, but with large neighborhoods now firmly in Islamic control, some genuine Christian persecution is beginning to rear its head in a few isolated places.  Let’s be clear about what is happening in the United States.

What is happening in the US is simple really, Christians are not being persecuted, they are losing.  There is a difference.  For one thing no one is doing us violence or destroying our property.  There have been occasions where the force of law was used to make us alter our own property, but no one has forcibly done so.  But more importantly, persecution requires that the persecuting party be clearly in control and the persecuted be a clear and powerless minority – in the US we are far, far from that.

In point of fact even when we were a clear and powerless minority and definitely persecuted, say in the first century after Christ, we somehow managed to prevail.  The Roman Empire, our former persecutor, became the seat of the church.  How did that happen?  It happened because we never acted like we were being persecuted.

It is bad enough that we claim to be persecuted when we are not actually being so, but it is really bad when we are acting as if we are persecuted, when victory is clearly ours:

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

As I said, we are not being persecuted, we are losing, but either is happening because we are not acting as the victors we truly are, the victors God promised to us we were.  This is a lack of faith, the faith that the verse just quoted says is the source of our victory.

And that especially is why it is so disheartening when people claim we are being persecuted, such a claim demonstrates a lack of faith.

If you feel like you are being persecuted for your faith, rather than pray for an end to the persecution, pray for more faith.  Ask God to give you what you need to be the victor that you are.

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