It appears the pressure is rising for Canadian and American Christians again. We still have it easy compared to the rest of the world, though that won’t remain the case.
Why are Christians persecuted?
The same as anyone, we’re different. It’s not only us.
In a nutshell, we don’t conform to the world’s ideals and what it worships. This immediately sends my thoughts to Romans 12:2.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
The culture in America is rebelling from the cultural Christianity from the early 20th Century. Over the last seventy or so years, it’s become post-Christian.
In turn, the American Christian response is to rebel from that. However, we’re an individualistic nation, so our response is an aggressive one. That isn’t the Biblical response.
“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
“Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” 1 Peter 2:9, 11-12
“If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.” 1 Peter 4:15
“Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.” 2 Timothy 2:14
“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” 2 Timothy 2:23-24
We could learn a lot from 1st and 2nd Century Christians. The Church—the body of Christ— grows best under pressure. An easy life is a detriment, as much as I would prefer an easy life.
I recently began reading a book titled Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference. Only two chapters in, and I already had nineteen highlights. Here’s a quote from Kristen Deede Johnson, who was involved in politics and was having a hard time reconciling that with her faith.
“Peter wrote similarly of what it means to be holy, noting that as God’s “holy nation,” as “aliens and exiles” in this world, Christians are to “abstain from the desires of the flesh” and by contrast, “conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge” (1 Peter 2:9, 11, 12).
These passages do not preclude us from tackling difficult issues, making our differences of conviction known, or engaging in the hard work of politics. They do imply, however, that as we do so, we have to attend to the character of our engagement.
These verses make clear that as God’s people we are called to be known not for resentment, anger, enmity, arrogance, or rudeness. Rather, honorable deeds, patience, kindness, generosity, faith, hope, and love: these befit God’s family. What does it look like for Christians to conduct ourselves honorably?
I see John’s call to confident pluralism as a way of living out Peter’s admonition in our divided political culture. By the grace of God, we can be patient because we take the long perspective, knowing that Christ is, always has been, and always will be Lord, through many different political realities. We can be humble because, as members of God’s family, we know we are entirely dependent on the grace and love of God extended to us in Christ, which we use to love others.
We can tolerate those with whom we profoundly disagree because the love we have in Christ does not insist on its own way, but rather bears and endures all things as it waits for the day when we will see all things clearly and fully.”
The culture’s response is showing who truly gives allegiance to Jesus. Those who say they have no religious affiliation are the fastest-growing religious category.
Adam Ford (Founder of the Babylon Bee and Disrn) has a comic on the “Death of Christianity in America.”
That’s to be expected; go to Mark 4 and read the Parable of the Sower. I was once the thin soil the seed was planted in. What grew fell away within months of dealing with trouble.
Why do people give in and walk away, conforming to the culture’s ideals or what it worships? Is it easier to please God or Man?
This is the perseverance of the saints in action.
“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:21-22
“Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:12-13
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Our lives are 80 years if we’re lucky or unlucky, depending on your perspective. In comparison to eternity, it’s not even a second in a Christian’s immortal life. That’s eternity with Jesus with reward, our inheritance, and no suffering.
It can only get better for us.