Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Persecution Box

When I first devoted my life to Christ I remember I was caught up in this romantic (or at least I thought it was) illusion of wanting to die a martyrs death. I thought it would be some kind of great thing that I wanted. As I have matured I realized that not are all called to die a martyrs death, there are a certain number that God has selected to die this death until he comes back. I don’t want to die a martyr’s death; I don’t think my faith is that strong honestly. I once had this dream that I was walking down the street with a friend talking about Jesus and some guy kidnapped us and held us in his garage outback. I remember how vivid this dream was. Each day he would come out and pull a tooth out of my head with a crude pair of players and tell me it would all be over if I just said that I would not follow Jesus. I cannot say with confidence I would not deny Christ, Peter said he wouldn’t…
“You will leave up out of here with some scars if you are a follower of Him.”
This is what someone said in regards to Christians being persecuted. Another gentleman in this conversation responded by saying he doesn’t think that he has ever been persecuted and thinks he should be. His basis for saying this was we started talking about those being persecuted in China, Asia, Africa, Russia, for their faith in Christ and he said there is no persecution in America. I think this can be a fair statement, but not one to be taken at face value. There is no persecution in America that looks like it does in China. In China it is acceptable to show someone your disdain for them and their religion by cutting off a hand or two. The government does not protect human lives when it comes to things like this. In America we cannot show hate this way legally, so it has evolved into different types of persecution, like not being able to get a job, lower pay, ostracism, and ultimately separation for society. Although this persecution may not be as grisly as it is in China, it is still persecution. Any time one is affected negatively by the society in which they live for the sake of Christ, that is persecution. As America Christians, we should not and cannot continue to live wanting to become like another society, even though there are tons of stuff I hate about he American culture. We must learn to adapt the message of Christ and how we apply that in our lives to the culture we have been placed in. We cannot place persecution in this little box of violent oppression of God’s people, because that puts Him in a box and God does not live within boundaries.
We may not be facing death for the sake of Christ, but we will be persecuted and should expect it, we should expect rejection for the sake of Christ, He was rejected. So instead of wishing we could be persecuted like our brothers and sisters in China and other parts of the world, we need to pray for those that are being persecuted in this malicious way, that God would grant them grace and peace in this time and He would be glorified through their suffering. Have you faced persecution? Remember, James says to be joyful for these things, because God is doing something in us, preparing us, completing us, pruning us, He is doing something for His sake and we should be grateful.
I have added Fox’s Book of Martyr’s to my daily reading and think we should all pray for those being persecuted around the world for Christ’s name.

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