This is not one of my happier things to write about but I feel it is necessary given our current political and spiritual climate in this nation.
When I look at the picture with this blog, I see a depiction of Stephen being stoned for preaching the gospel of Christ. Jesus said these words Himself in Matthew. Yet where is the American church on this issue as a whole? Far from believing those words. It would seem the American church, instead of using persecution to further the work of God's Kingdom, has instead chosen to run as far away from it as she can and further to demand that she not be persecuted. Huh?
Now don't get me wrong, I love the American church and I know of many good churches doing many good things for communities and the world. However, when it comes to persecution and the American church I have to ask myself, "Where did this attitude about persecution come from?"
I can tell you it didn't come from the apostle Paul or Stephen or any of the great apostles of the New Testament. I believe this attitude came from a sense of religious entitlement . Entitlement is wrapped up in self. Although I don't see in the Bible where you find entitlement.
If you read the Bible, Paul said he rejoiced in trials and tribulations and persecutions (Romans 5:3-4 for your reference). If Paul, the leading apostle of his time and writer of so many New Testament books, can rejoice in tribulation and persecution up to and including going to prison - American church, why can't you? Why are we throwing a fit over Chip and Joanna Gaines and the media blasting their churches' views? Paul would have celebrated it because it is allowing them to reason with people who will listen and elaborate their views. Have we really let both conservative and liberal media biases blow everything out of proportion so badly that we react the way they want us to? Who is controlling you here church?
Persecuation never made Paul mad! Just think, Paul's persecution took him all the way to the Roman Emperor and he declared the gospel to his whole house! What if persecution took you all the way to the President of the US or the Head of UN Security Council and you were able to speak to representatives of every nation of the world about Jesus? That puts persecution in a different light doesn't it.
There are Christians all over the world who suffer much worse persecutation than media scrutiny I assure you. Many of them die horrible deaths just for being caught with a Bible or going to a house church. When was the last time you saw on the news that an American Christian died on American soil for going to church or owning a Bible? We are more blessed here than we realize.
I want to implore all Christians and the American Church as a whole to take persecution for what it is, an opportunity to share the gospel and the love of God with those who will listen. It is not a political smackdown. Don't get angry and don't give any media the satisfaction of reacting to their story. That is exactly what they want.
I will leave you with Paul's words in Romans 5:3-4 to contemplate:
And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation].
Until next time,