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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

It's Raining

I've been having some trouble with persecution of Christians. Oh, no, not that I'm being taken to prison or fed to lions. I mean with the concept, nay, the word.

You see, when we think of "persecution of Christians", we think of Peter crucified upside down or Paul in prison in Rome or the martyrs of the early church in the Coliseum fed to lions or burned to death and the like. In that sense, of course, Christians in America are not undergoing persecution. They tell me that in the 20th century more Christians were put to death for their faith than in all other centuries combined. American Christians are not undergoing that kind of persecution.

On the other hand, Jesus used phrases like "insult" and "revile" and "falsely accuse" to describe what He classified as "persecution". So who am I to tap Jesus on the shoulder and say, "Um, Lord, You keep using that word; I do not think it means what You think it means"?

Then I came up with a parallel to help explain. I saw the news about rain in South Carolina. "1,000 year flood," they called it. They got 25 inches of rain in places. Flooding, destruction, death. Bad stuff. I mean, 2 feet of rain. That would definitely be classified as "flooding rains". And yet last year around this same time we here in Arizona got hit by the remnants of a hurricane. It dropped 2-4" of rain in 6 hours1, completely flooded main freeways, submerged neighborhoods ... well, many of the very same symptoms that South Carolina was seeing. "The wettest day on record," they called it. But ... it was only 4". "You call that rain?" I can hear South Carolinans asking.

It is a guarantee. All who wish to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). Count on it. Of course, you can keep in mind that "persecuted" is relative. It might entail being executed for your faith. Or tortured. Or ... other awful things. Jesus called being reviled or maligned being persecuted (Matt 5:10-11). So in some places people die and in others they lose their businesses and livelihood. On either end of the spectrum, it's rain and it hurts. So remember the proper response.
"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt 5:12)

"I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you." (Luke 6:27-28)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (Rom 12:14)
Whether it's 25" or 4". You may not be comfortable calling 4" of rain a problem. That's fine. The correct response is still to bless them and pray for them and do good to them. Neither the Lordship of Christ nor our relationship with Him is dependent upon our churches retaining their tax-exempt status or our maintaining our perceived legal rights or comfortable lives. The Gospel nor God's glory are dependent on us being treated nice. So I'm not arguing, "Run for your lives! It's all persecution!" I'm simply suggesting you rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, "persecution" or not.
1The rain gauge at my house showed 6".


Bob said...

i remember going to the carnival and playing the game where a you have this hammer and you try to hit the gophers as they pop up. it is such frustrating game, as soon as you slam one, another pops up and on and on it goes until you get tired of swinging the hammer. this is great illustration of the world. it tries over and over to destroy the truth of God and its people, only to be frustrated in its efforts. because although God's people are Crushed, we are never destroyed. the world tries to suppress the truth in unrighteousness but the truth will always prevail. so yes pray for our enemy, they are trying so hard..only working in utter futility, exhausting themselves on the anvil of their own destruction.

Stan said...

I don't know, man. In a parallel of "today's society and Christianity" and "whackamole", Christianity is the mole? It doesn't ... feel right. :)

Bob said...

i give you whacked out comparisons to sooth the restless mind..from its endless pursuit of reason. we live in a world of screaming trees and lying squirrels, a coincidence? i don't think so...
on a more rational note: our suffering is not to be compared to the Glory to come, and with that in view, i can see why we should pray for our enemy's. considering that our suffering is but a short time but they will suffer for an eternity if they are not saved. this calls for true compassion.