|For a moment, assume every assertion that American Christians are being persecuted is true. By now I’m sure you’ve heard Christian believers or groups decry certain laws or decisions. When they do, many times, it goes beyond a mere difference of opinion. Instead, they represent a constant and direct provoking of Christians.
Before I continue, let me say I’m confident some people would love to see Christians fail. They want the Christian voice to be one of the past, one that has no place in our modern society. For those people, there is a strong desire to silence Christians.
While I know there are people like that, I don’t see those people being the majority. Part of what we are experiencing now is our country making room for other voices. And that makes a lot of us uncomfortable.
But remember, we’re assuming the American church is being targeted. Then let’s be honest, our response hasn’t been biblical. No, we aren’t called to be victims or simply allow the world to take advantage of us.
What do we gain, though, when we give up on our calling to be holy so that we can protect our sense of security and freedom? In church yesterday, many of us heard Jesus say it’s better for us to be missing a hand, foot or eye in the kingdom of God than go to hell with everything intact. That’s a call to true holiness.
If we are being persecuted because of our faith, scripture calls that a test. Peter says to rejoice since we know that God protects us. Rejoice “even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials.” These tests are the fires meant to refine us. When God refines us we come out purer, closer to the grace of God.
Unfortunately, many of us Christians just get hot under the collar. As a result, we take on attitudes and ideas that are not Christ-centered.
Strong arming the idea that every opposing view is a form of persecution isn’t wise. I happen to believe it’s a play on Christian voters, but that’s another discussion. Not only is it unwise, it’s also showing the world a skewed version of faith in God. And if, like it feels like we are, we Christians become more abrasive and nasty as a result, what glory does God receive? The church isn’t growing or becoming more like Christ.
In many ways, we are failing these tests.
But failing a test is an opportunity to grow. One thing we can do, the first thing we should always do is repent. Let’s ask God to change our minds about how we respond to what’s happening around us.
Then let’s find creative, faithful ways we can live out our trust in Jesus. If we are being persecuted, do we trust God’s power enough to sustain us? If we aren’t actually enduring persecution, are we willing to admit we were wrong and learn how to better live in peace with others? That’s being refined by God.
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