Christian persecutionâthe Bible tells us to expect it (Matthew chapter 24, verses 9â10, John chapter 15, verses 18â21) but for so many years in western society we have been blessed with a comfortable ride.
The tide has changed as Christians now face legal action for their stance on marriage, and are being bombarded with school curriculums not lining up with scripture (to name a few situations).
Recently the US followed suit of almost 20 other countries who have legalised same sex marriages, Australia still remains firm in their definition of marriage (although the pressure is on).
A recent case involving Christians who own a bakery in the US has just concluded with the family being forced to pay $135,000 in fines. Subsequently they have had to shut down their business and are restricted from discussing the case:
'The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published ... any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations ... will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation' (dailysignal.com)
A blessing in disguise
These sorts of court cases are likely to grow in number as Christians reject government laws in order to stand for the Word of God. This leaves us as a target for some minority groups who may seek an opportunity to gain from our stance or 'punish' us for our treatment of them in the past.
The situation sounds challenging, but consider it a blessing in disguise. Those with superficial beliefsâwithout backbone or a real relationship with the Lordâmay be put off by the hassle and sacrifice of legal action. Like Gideon's army of 300 (dwindled down from 32,000) the Church may thus become a powerful and influential body of true believers who take the Word to the nations.
Moving forward together and in obedience to the Word of God this army will then have the opportunity to speak, act and live as ambassadors for Christ to the world, without the hindrance of lukewarm 'Christians'. So let's respond like Christ to every challenge with love and truth as we are challenged by popular opinion and society's adoption of sin.
Recipe for success
The Bible outlines our response in simple terms, although it may be easier said than done. These ingredients, as defined by God, will set us up as a Church to be successful in proclaiming His name and living for Him.
- Bless those who curse/persecute you (Romans chapter 12, verse 14)
- Pray for those who mistreat you (Luke chapter 6, verses 27â28, Matthew chapter 5, verse 44)
- Repay evil with good (Romans chapter 12, verses 17â21)
- Attempt to live at peace with everyone (Romans chapter 12, verse 18)
- Remain positive and joyful, focusing on the future, not the present sufferings (Hebrews chapter 10, verses 32â36)
We cannot hope to achieve success without daily time in the Word of God and regular fellowship with fellow believers. This isn't a cookie recipe, this is a battle plan and we need to be working under God and alongside fellow brothers and sisters. When we are lined up in this formation we cannot be defeated.
The battle plan is the same approach Jesus took during His ministry and one Paul tells us of when he says it's not against flesh and blood we war, but a spiritual conflict.
Jesus's ministry was actively loving sinners and openly rebuking the religious leaders. His victory was a spiritual breakthrough, not a physical fight. He humbly served those around Him, highlighted by washing the feet of His disciples, and ultimately gave up His life for the cause of His Father.
Now, in today's society, we must continue to express Christ's love to sinners without engaging in a physical war of words or fist fight. When they abuse us, we must forgive, bless, pray and love those who hurt us.
When they offend us again, we must repeat our actions and words of love and kindness. All the while, our attitudes must remain focused on the future, allowing us to be positive and joyful among trials and tribulations.
Take up the armour of God, pray and stand firm. The enemy is threatening us through society's rebellion of God and we must respond not as he would like us to, but instead with the Word of God as our sword and with loving words and actions.
Persecution is coming and you may lose your house, your business and even family members, but don't lose your faith. Don't lose sight of the future and the glorious promise of eternal life you have been granted (if you have confessed your faith in the Lord).
Stand firm, face the challenges with joy and represent Christ well before the world.
Tim Wilson is an Australian currently living in Canada with his wife (also a comment writer) and their three children. He is passionate about the Church living according to the Word of God and authors a blog to inspire and challenge men and women of faith. http://www.abrokenmanblog.com
Tim Wilson's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-wilson.html