One of the ironies in the area of politics and religion seems to be that those people who strongly profess a faith of some sort feel as though they are being persecuted by the secular minority and the secular minority feels as though they are being persecuted by those who are religious. It’s an interesting predicament.
Every time I read and article or hear a conversation about abortion or same-sex marriage or the myriad of other issues out there today, secularists say they’re trying to keep church and state separated and the Church cries out that their values are being obliterated and ignored. Both sides seem to perceive themselves as being discriminated against. And perhaps both sides are correct about that.
You might think that, from here, I’m going to go on to discuss why I think Christians should act with more compassion and kindness and love so that they don’t feel judged or persecuted or discriminated against. While I do think those things, that’s not where I’m going with this. So, if that’s where you thought this was headed…surprise!!
Rather than discuss how we respond to the issues themselves, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the actual persecution, as it may be perceived, of the Church. The more the Church’s values get trampled upon, the more their power in society is stripped away, the more we are painted as judgmental or closed-minded or intolerant, the more we seem to want to fight back against these ideas.
Now, I’m not going to say that we should just lie down and take it. That’s not what this is about. What I would like to point out, however, is a quick little jaunt down memory lane to the first three centuries of the Church. There are those would may claim that we are headed for the same kind of persecution that they experienced prior to Constantine’s edict to legitimize Christianity.
If we look back at the early Church, they were tortured and killed for their beliefs and they continued to live out their faith with joy. What is ironic is that it was during these types of times that Christianity flourished. It was later, when Christianity was “legal” that it began to become largely watered down with people who moderately believed (some people refer to these types as “Cultural Christians”).
While I will not necessarily say that we should hope for more persecution, I certainly am suggesting that we not fear that potential future. God will continue to meet our needs and continues to be in control. Whatever the circumstances, further anti-Christian sentiment will only serve to facilitate a process of separating the true believers from those who merely find it a convenient social norm.
Before the comments start flying, in the past when I’ve made similar statements, people make a false assumption that I claim to know how to distinguish between these two groups of people. However, that is not necessarily the case. On the one hand, scripture does give us some insight as to how to recognize believers from pretenders (often known as “fruits”), it is also evident that all believers are in different places, spiritually, and therefore will show more, less or different “fruits” and may make it more difficult to accurately identify who is whom.
In the end, I believe that we should not fear the idea that Christians may be more and more persecuted. We should not fear that there is an actualy possibility that Christianity could one day be illegal. We should simply trust in the Lord and know that He is in control. He is sovereign. And, He will work all things for the good of those who believe Him (Romans 8:28).
What about you? Do you think Christianity will be persecuted? Do you think it will continue to get worse? Do you think that it may eventually be against the law? How will you handle this kind of future?
Grace, love and peace.