Do we really know what persecution looks like in America?
- During the next month, we will likely hear complaints about retail and businesses opting to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
- During this same season, cities will wrestle with decisions to not have a Christmas display—or to include displays from every other religious group—including atheists.
- The definition of marriage will continue to be broadened beyond the biblical standard.
- Schools will forego the tradition of a prayer preceding football games.
But does all this mean Christians are being persecuted?
I don’t want to be misunderstood. I do not support these things, but neither are they preventing me from openly and actively living out my faith in Christ.
Social media, though, is ablaze with feelings of oppression . So a call is issued to rise up … don’t back down … sue the local government … get in people’s faces and say “Merry Christmas” anyway … fight back against those who are stealing our values.
I believe persecution is coming, but we’re a far cry from being there. Contrast what Americans are experiencing with what is happening in other countries.
- In Syria, three Christians are shot in the head execution-style as part of a Muslim “Festival of the Sacrifice.”
- In China, two pastors are sentenced to prison for “utilizing a cult to undermine law enforcement.”
- In Tanzania, seven church builds are destroyed by Muslim extremists.
My number one concern is how we—the church in America—should respond to what we face. I’m not referring just to full-blown persecution, but when someone opposes us because we follow Jesus.
The ranting, name-calling, and woe-is-us attitude needs to stop. We need to show love and grace even as Jesus did when He was opposed.
A great model is given to us by the early church. In Acts 4, Peter and John faced opposition from the Jewish religious leaders who even commanded them to stop talking about Jesus. Of course, they said no, but notice what they did next.
They joined other believers—and prayed.
- They acknowledged the sovereignty of God over everything—including those who opposed them (vv. 24-28).
- They asked for boldness to continue to share the message of Christ (v. 29).
- They called on God to continue doing great things that would point to Jesus Christ (v. 30).
No requests for the problems to go away. Only a desire that Jesus Christ would be seen in them and that He would be honored and glorified.
Persecution is coming and even now we face pockets of opposition. Let’s develop a lifestyle of prayer, praying for boldness to lovingly proclaim the gospel of Christ and to glorify Him.
This post supports the study “When Opposition Strikes” in Bible Studies for Life.