In this blog I will share my thoughts on what the Bible says about how Christians should respond in the face of persecution. Christians are being persecuted around the world. Most believe Christians will eventually face some form of persecution in America. How should we respond?
I spend a great deal of time interacting with Christian leaders. Some of these are leaders of local churches. Some of these are leaders on a larger scale. If a handful of believers get together, regardless of position, the conversation will soon turn to the state of our nation. The general consensus is America is headed in a downward spiral spiritually. I usually sit silently with thoughts I dare not verbalize, such as, was our nation better off spiritually when we stole land from natives, practiced legalized slavery and institutional racism? I am quite certain from studying God’s Word the only nation truly set aside as God’s people was Israel and it is worth pointing out they were failures spiritually. The conversation among my brothers usually moves to the topic of what is in store for believers. Again, the consensus is believers will soon face persecution in America. REST ASSURED THE BELIEVER WILL SUFFER PERSECUTION, GOD’S WORD SAYS IT IS SO. However, these conversations usually move to the topic of how should believers respond. These thoughts run the gamut. Some are full-blown pacifist while others have an arsenal of weapons stockpiled and seem to welcome conflict. I hear talk among believers of an uprising and taking America back. I want to share a couple of thoughts about the Christian response to persecution.
I am comfortable making a distinction.
I feel there needs to be a distinction between persecution of Christians versus the actions of a madman. Around the world Christians are being beheaded, starved, imprisoned and drowned for their faith. Some nations have laws that call for the death of believers if they evangelize. This is persecution of Christianity.
In America today we have witnessed many madmen go on rampages killing and injuring innocent bystanders. One has a machete, another has a pistol, one has a rifle. They kill in stores, movie theaters, churches and school campuses. I do not view this as Christian persecution.
In the latter case, I am comfortable, as a believer, practicing self-defense. In Acts 13, on Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey they encountered a sorcerer who opposed their work. Paul spoke up declaring the man would be struck blind for a season. He was blinded. In Exodus 22:2, 3 the teaching is if a thief breaks in your house at night the child of God is allowed to defend his home and family even to the killing of the intruder. As a believer, I am comfortable defending myself, family and property from an individual madman. I recommend each church have a plan to respond if a dangerous individual intrudes a service for the purpose of injury or death or even disruption.
A believer is instructed on how to respond to persecution.
Examine a few verses with from the Holy Bible.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43-44).
Romans 12:17 says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.”
1 Peter 2:20, “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.”
Remember my distinction. Persecution is facing opposition because one is a believer. The New Testament believers and writers faced persecution because they were Christians. Christianity was being opposed. When the writers speak of enemies they are speaking of enemies of our Lord.
Based on the totality of Scripture if the U.S. government comes for the believers of VBC we will be more Biblical if we surrender peacefully rather than take up arms to offer a defense.
We will impact the world more through love and forgiveness than we will with guns and grenades.
I personally am not comfortable with the notion of believers declaring, “Let’s take America back.” Take America back to what – slavery, the sexual revolution, sanctioned racism, the drug experience? I have a greater desire take America to where she has never been before than to any place she has been in the past. This may be accomplished if we love the enemies of the Cross. This will not be accomplished through violence and protests.