It is to be expected that followers of Jesus will encounter persecution, abuse and vilification. Jesus had to endure it, and he told us that we would as well.
But why the animosity to committed followers of Jesus? Well, sometimes it must be said that we bring it upon ourselves. We often do a poor job of reflecting the saviour that we claim to follow. But other times it simply is a case of those in the dark hating those who walk in the light. This is the point Jesus made in John 3:16-21.
Examples of such anti-Christian sentiment are seen on a daily basis. American commentator Kevin McCullough highlights just one such case in point. In his article, “In defense of radical Christianity,” found at Townhall.com (September 17, 2006), he examines an outburst from TV talk show host, leftist and lesbian, Rosie O’Donnell.
On her September 13 show she made these remarks: “As a result of the (9-11) attack and the killing of 3000 innocent people, we invaded two countries and killed innocent people.” She went on to add, “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state.”
Is that so? I don’t think so. Neither does McCullough: “The profound ignorance of the statements not only reveals Rosie’s absolute incapacity to comprehend the serious matter of the war on terror but more importantly the eternal issue of her soul.”
As to the former, she is simply like so many of our elites who are unable to make moral distinctions: “Rosie refuses to recognize that Muslims whose doctrine calls for them to kill us are attempting to do just that, while at the same time evangelical Christians share a theology that speaks to the need for grace to those who are in danger, and mercy for those who repent.”
And as to the latter, he says, “In comparing the harshest moments of the historical crusades Rosie’s point would have still been amiss, but notice she specified the type of Christianity she considers dangerous, the kind of Christianity that we have in America. Pardon me for brushing aside a lot of speculation and get straight to the issue, Rosie hates evangelicals. The kinds of Christians that scare her most are the radical ones. Roughly translated that means – the ones who actually live by what they believe.”
Yes, liberal, wishy-washy, uncommitted believers (if they in fact really are believers) are no threat to the secularists and radicals. It is just those who take their faith seriously. Indeed, “Rosie’s statement says much more about her own belief system. It tells us for example that she doesn’t have a relationship with God. She has no discernment between the exclusive claims of the God of the Bible and Allah of the Koran. More importantly she doesn’t care to have one, so anything that God may have to say about her life, how she should live, and what is best for her becomes increasingly irrelevant.”
“Rosie’s statement also reveals a deep seated anger against a group of people that believe in moral absolutes. The idea of an objective source by which we can understand the difference in right and wrong is a concept that people like Rosie run from. It scares them, and the only way they can respond is in emotional anger to reality that they can not change.”
But this attempt to dismiss moral absolutes is not so easily accomplished: “In the world Rosie would like to live in, she wishes there would be no evil. In acknowledging that there is as much, she is also admitting to a greater moral structure that she must measure herself by each day, and in that she falls short – as do we all.”
But like many who seek to push God out of their life, troubles arise: “Rosie lives the way mankind always has when they reject God. They convince themselves that if no one gets hurt by what they do – then there is no such thing as right or wrong. So secrets are made, deeds are engaged in, and illicit sin holds a sway over their lives to the point where boldness begins to be craved.”
This just makes things worse: “Convinced over a long enough period of time that the deeds they know to be wrong will not harm them, they wish to force the rest of society to agree with them. The most important object in their way becomes the voices of those who would remind them that what they are doing is not good for them. And their most important goal becomes to equivocate or eliminate those voices.”
As Jesus warned 2000 years ago, people will not come to the light because it exposes their darkness. And men love darkness rather than light: “Rosie is angry with radical Christians, because radical Christians know a peace and resolve about their life that she has yet to find. She believes ‘radical Christianity’ is dangerous because she views it as something that will limit her ability to do what she wishes.”
But “freedom” apart from God always leads to slavery. “What she doesn’t understand is the incredible freedom she would find in embracing it.”
In the end, it does no good simply to renounce such anti-Christian bigotry. We need to pray for those who persecute us, as Jesus said. And we need to continue to lead lives which reflect Christ in a lost and broken world. Who knows, but needy folk like O’Donnell may yet come around. It hurts in the meantime, but our Lord led the way in this respect.
Discipleship is always costly, but persistence pays off.