Responding to persecution...
Sweeping waves of persecution are coming to people of faith. Oh no, what should we do? How will we survive? Can Christian faith survive these attacks? When will we start to fight back and defend our faith? How long will we put up with persecution? STOP! Have we forgotten who is the author and perfecter of our faith? Perhaps.
I am noticing more and more 'aggressive' Christianity lately and my heart hurts. Our model for living, our leader and mentor Jesus Christ, is the epitome of meekness (strength under pressure).
He spoke several times about how persecution is a badge of honor for believers (Matt 5:11, 44; Luke 21:12; John 15:20). His own life was an example of how we should deal with persecution. He considered his life (1 John 3:16) as a sacrifice and expects us to do likewise.
Our human response when assaulted is to lash out with words and actions. We want to push back, defend our faith (as if God needed to be defended), and go on the offensive. The times when Jesus went on the offensive were few and generally directed at the Jewish religious leaders. Even then, Jesus was obedient to death, even death on a cross. I recall singing the old song, "He Could Have Called 10,000 Angels" in our little country church. The end of the line resounds with power, "but he died alone for you and me."
If you believe in God the Father, in His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, then the call to be crucified with Christ is embedded into our spiritual DNA. Whoops, I just heard quite a few readers leave this page and slam the door!! If militant Christianity is the way to move forward, then Peter cutting off the servant's ear in Gethsemane would have been applauded by Jesus. Instead, Peter was rebuked and the servant was healed. Today, make a conscious effort to bring healing to a land hellbent on anger and injury.
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the
Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need.
Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who
rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing
to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be
careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at
peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It
is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is
thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be
overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:9-21, NIV)