3May15 – Persecution

Today’s post has almost nothing to do with Haiti, but God was teaching me something and I wanted to share it.

It all started by reading this article:

I’ve been having discussions lately about the “social gospel” and how often, we, as believers, think we need to fill the role of savior and end up getting in the way of people actually living out a faith in God. So, this one kind of hit me again. As I read the article, it is saying that Christians should be calling out to President Obama and the Kurds to rescue our fellow believers, but how does this stack up with what the Bible says our response should be for persecution.

I started with a search on Bible Gateway for “persecute” and “enemies” and a few variations.
There were a bunch of results, and many of them apply with a pretty accurate context, but…you know what was missing? The part where the early church called for a petition of any government body to save them from their persecutions, and, actually, there isn’t even a mention of the early church asking God for an end to their troubles.

What did the results say?

Expectation
We WILL be persecuted for following Christ.
John 15:20-21
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Matthew 10:19-23
When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next

Therefore, we should not be surprised that Christians are being persecuted and killed, it has been that way since the beginning. If anything, our current lack of persecution in the U.S. may actually be a reflection on how (un)Christ-like we are actually being.

Response
BLESS, and PRAY FOR, the persecutors.

Romans 12:12-21
“be patient in tribulation…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them…Repay no one evil for evil…beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengence is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’
To the contrary; ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Matthew 5:43-45
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Luke 6:27
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,”

Luke 6:35-36
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Rationale #1
BLESSED are the persecuted.
Matthew 5:10-12
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Rationale #2
Be a WITNESS in persecution
Luke 21:10-16
Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.
Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.
Matthew 10:16-18
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,
and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.

Rationale #3
Persecution CANNOT DO ANY HARM to the believer.

Luke 21:17-18
You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.

1 Corinthians 4:11-13
To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

Romans 8:31-39
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In David’s words (while under afflication):
Psalm 119: 150-151-
“They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.
But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true.”

And my final reference, from Paul, regarding his response to affliction:

2 Corinthians 12:10:
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In conclusion:
Call upon the Name of the Lord. Trust in His Sovereign Power.
We are called to do many things, but let us not try to usurp responsibilities from God. Vengeance and Judgement are his. Calling for a government to arm one set of non-believers, to fight another set of non-believers (all of whom are destined for hell) to protest the mortal bodies of people who are already granted eternal life in Christ doesn’t make any logical sense, and doesn’t line up with scriptures.
Pray for the persecuted church, not for the persecution to end, but for them to know they have the strength in Him to endure, and that they would bear witness in all the nations in this time.
Pray for ISIS and all of those who oppose the Name of Jesus Christ.
Don’t every forget that we don’t need to seek aid from a government, or fear a government.
We have access to the one who allows all rulers their places to begin with. He has the power to unseat rulers and destroy nations.

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