We, in the United States, are truly blessed. Even with all that is happening in our country, we continue to live with freedom and liberty for all. In fact, we have so much of it were starting to turn on ourselves out of guilt. It seems were trying to find reasons to be unhappy with all we have been given.
Cries of persecution rise among us because we seek the satisfaction of feeling persecuted though we have no idea of what real persecution is. Even the church shares in the chorus of “poor us, can’t you feel our pain?” Often times, we try to incorporate the pain of others into our lives to feel truly mistreated ourselves, and many will go to great lengths to find it.
If were being honest, the church in America is richly blessed with all the freedom and power we need to make a true difference, were just not doing it. We hide behind our walls trying to avoid the wrath of those who won’t accept our message. We fear the persecuting mobs with their pitch forks and torches. But, is that real persecution or is it something we’ve devised in our mind to free us from the responsibilities inherited by being in the family of God?
God speaks through Paul as he instructs Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12, He tells him, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” It comes with being a Christian. It’s a natural occurrence in a world broken by sin. It’s something we should expect. Yet in the United States, the persecution is extremely mild in comparison to other parts of the world.
In just the last year, there have been:
These numbers are heartbreaking. And yet, they don’t tell the whole story. James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of faith produces steadfastness.”
If we were to look at the countries that produce the most persecutions toward Christians, we would also find countries where Christianity is exploding the most. Right now, the fastest growing churches are in Iran and China, two places where Christianity is forced to exist with strict rules or, in many places, not allowed at all.
So, yes, we are very blessed to be citizens in a country where we may freely worship. Unfortunately, for many, this has caused a great complacency. With so much freedom we have become lazy in our faith. It’s where they have no opportunity to lay their guard down that Christianity is booming. It’s where real persecution is happening that the Word of God is spreading like wild fire.
Maybe there is something to this. Maybe we should be letting a little persecution into our lives and quite playing it safe. Matthew 5:10 says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Blessed are those who face our lost world with truth despite the reaction they might receive. Blessed are those who take risks in the name of God. Blessed are those who are not ashamed of the faith they profess. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted in the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:12-14). Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, give us the courage to make our stand as your people. Help us to share Your love without fear, Your grace without worrying and Your mercy without end. Amen.