SERIES: Revival Through Persecution
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:10-12, ESV)
After seeing what comes out of people via social media and personal conversations over the last several weeks and months, it’s no question that there is a great deal of fear in the Church. Fear of the future– specifically brought on by the current polarized political climate of the United States. I’ve had countless conversations with
fellow believers discussing what we see unfolding before our very eyes. Regardless of where on the political spectrum you fall, it is very plain to see that we as a country are moving in a direction where we may begin to see the Church slowly stripped of its rights and freedoms.
We’re living in a time where Christian imperatives are becoming labeled as hate speech, and being attacked or even criminalized in some areas. Biblical teachings such as the sanctity of unborn lives, the exclusivity of the Gospel, what the Bible teaches on gender roles and family structure, the fact that Christ is Lord– NOT Cesar– that Jesus is the only provision for salvation, and that there is only one human race. This harshness towards biblical Christianty has naturally driven a great deal of believers to fear; a fear that reveals a lot about the condition of the 21st century American Church.
One of the biggest problems is that we have an entire country’s worth of believers that have come to take for granted things that were never promised to them in scripture. American liberties such as the right to assemble, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, right to bear arms, etc– the parts of their lives that thus far have been protected by the American Constitution. We’ve grown up in a society where we haven’t even had the opportunity to face some of the things that the Bible tells us to be ready for. Things such as persecution, torture, martyrdom, starvation, and enslavement as is common in many parts of Asia, Africa and Europe.
Thanks to our freedom, we have been allowed by law to assemble freely, to speak and preach freely, to have different ideas from secular society. As some of us may start to feel the government– and culture in general– impeding on some of these rights, it’s clear to see how much we lean on our assumptions that they’ll always be there especially as we’re figuring out they may not always be. Our problem is when we take for granted things that were never promised to us in scripture– provisions that were never scriptural– things like certain amendments of the Constitution and treat them as if they are the promises of God.
When we put our faith (which was meant for Christ alone) in the promises and laws of man, we are sure to be crushed. Many have taken their liberties, and subconsciously elevated them to a level that only scripture holds, and at times, hold tighter to the promises of our American forefathers than the promises of our Heavenly Father. So as Christians, though we may see things that seem unconstitutional, we should never react to the removal of freedoms as if it were unbiblical. In fact, Jesus tells us in John 16 (among many other verses) that we will face tribulations. 2 Timothy tells us “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”.
Persecution is the world’s natural reaction to Christ and Christ within you. Persecution is not a sign that God has left you but rather it is the confirmation that He is WITH you. The proof that God is watching out for us is not that we live freely in America, but rather that we are clearly set apart from the rest of the world. Now I’m certainly not saying that we should hope or pray for our rights to be taken. We praise and thank God for our freedoms. I’m simply saying that how we react to it, and how tightly we cling to the Constitution over the Bible shows a great deal about where our faith lies.
We should never react to the removal of civil rights as if it were God’s very promises being taken from us. We as a people have become so comfortable with and dependent on our freedoms and liberties that we can become unwilling to follow and pursue the things that Jesus promised and called us into. We react as if it is the very law of God being broken, when in reality it is only us stepping into the very things that God told us to be prepared for. When we treat the words of men, and come to depend on the words of men more than the very words of Christ, this is idolatry. This is subconscious idolatry that we’ve become numb to because we’ve grown up for so long being told how life ought to be in America.
But Jesus never guarantees us civil liberty, but he does guarantee affliction and persecution, which He endured– and we ought to– for His glory. Will we be up in arms, or will we simply trust him?
For the next couple weeks, we’ll be diving into what that means and what it looks like to follow Jesus in times of persecution; and what it looks like to begin depending on Christ again rather than a country, party, or our liberties.