About what? I am glad you asked. In the West the church is taking a hammering and the forces arrayed against it are growing by the day. The crack-down on true Christianity intensifies, and believers are being put under more and more pressure.
Persecution, in other words, is on the increase. While we are clearly warned about this happening in Scripture, and while it may at some point become inevitable here, I do tire of so many Christians who are just so glib and careless about this. You know what I mean. They will throw out lame clichés like these:
-Persecution is a good thing
-Persecution is inevitable
-The church thrives under persecution
-A bit of persecution is good for the church
-We should welcome persecution
-Don’t worry about persecution, it is bound to come
-Relax, we are promised persecution
Now some of those lines are more or less true – more on that in a moment. But the sad reality is, far too many of these Christians tossing out these phrases know absolutely nothing about real persecution, and if they did, they would not wish it on anyone, or treat it so cavalierly.
Sure, the church often thrives under persecution, and when a carnal, compromised and disobedient church refuses to follow Christ and the Bible, God often will allow persecution to come in to weed out the wheat from the tares, and to purify his body. We certainly know this from church history.
But no one should wish persecution on anyone. It is horrific indeed. Even persecution in the West can be bad enough. Simply being fired from a job for stating the biblical position on marriage is a massive hit to any believer. He may well have lost his ability to easily feed his own family. This is nothing to sneeze at.
And the glib reply, “Well, God will look after him” does not help much either. Unless you – the person saying that – are prepared to personally dig deep into your own pocket and help them out, you are just a hypocrite. Indeed, unless you open up your home to such a destitute family, all your Christian clichés mean nothing.
Joking about “prison ministry” and having a captive audience in jail is pretty unhelpful as well. Have these folks ever been in prison? This is nothing to take lightly. Simply the prospect of facing regular gang rapes should deter anyone from being glib about this. This is no laughing matter.
Of course, overseas real hardcore persecution is taking place, with beheadings, mass executions, churches being burned to the ground, etc. While believers there are certainly seeking God’s grace to endure, it certainly is not fun for them.
Yes the church often thrives and grows under such conditions, but I am sure God would prefer that his church grows and thrives simply out of its deep love for God, not because it is driven out of desperation and great pain. It is sort of like those who never go to the dentist, unless their teeth are in great pain. Waiting for a crisis period is not the ideal way to go here.
We should be loving and serving God for who he is. That is the ideal. Yet often we grow careless, apathetic and indifferent to the things of God, and it is not until the persecution heats up that we finally start taking our faith seriously.
That really is not how the Christian life should operate. And neither should we be so cavalier about the great blessings we now enjoy – blessings that include religious freedom. Yet even well-meaning folks can say rather unhelpful things in this regard.
For example, one person posted this after the homosexual marriage vote: “The people have spoken. Australia wants to legalise Same Sex Marriage. As followers of Jesus we will now be subjected to much ridicule from the YES supporters. Do not let it get under your skin and lose your joy. God is still God.”
Well, yes and no. Sure God is still in charge. That much is a given. But does that mean we just put on a happy face and run with the vote? One might as well say, “The people have spoken. Germany wants to let Hitler rule over them. As followers of Jesus we will now be subjected to much ridicule from them. Do not let it get under your skin and lose your joy. God is still God.”
Um, that is being a bit glib and superficial when the stakes are extremely high. Sure, fake marriage legalisation is a different matter, but the stakes are still quite high here as well. In this case we are still being glib about the very real persecution which all this will release on the church.
“Don’t let it get under your skin” is not exactly the appropriate Christian response. A biblical response, as I have written elsewhere, is to first of all weep, and weep deeply as we see God and his Word so brazenly attacked, and his institutions of marriage and family trodden under foot.
A bit of righteous indignation would not go astray here either. This is something to be greatly concerned about, and not something to just put on the Bobby McFerrin tune, “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. That is not what you would call the Christian response to this great evil being unleashed in this land.
Being so glib and so seemingly unconcerned is not going to help us here. These are serious days indeed, and we must act seriously, and forget the false piety and Christian bumper sticker clichés. These things matter, and we should be taking a stand against such things, and not just pretend it is all hunky dory.
Many of these people take this line to effectively say we should not give a rip about all the anti-Christian bigotry and hostilities in the West. “Relax” they say, “persecution is good for the church”. It may be good, but that gives us no reason to sit back and ignore the full-scale assault on our faith and our freedoms.
These things are worth fighting for. To smugly, glibly and self-righteously tell believers to just chill here, and not worry about all this, is a real abandonment of Christian responsibility. It is a copout and a refusal to take seriously our calling to be salt and light.
It just gives the green light for all those who hate the church to waltz right in and shut us down completely. Sorry, I will not be a part of such irresponsible and foolish thinking. Religious freedom is hugely important, and it is worth standing up for and seeking to preserve.
Sure, a day may come when despite all our best efforts, we really do lose most, if not all, of our freedoms. Then we will really face the music. But I will not sit back and let it happen on my watch. I will fight for what is right, and I will seek to allow our freedoms to preach the gospel and do good proceed unhindered.
In sum, as I have said so often before, the Bible nowhere tells us to seek after persecution or pray for it. Things like religious liberty are incredibly valuable social goods and a real gift from God. We should not take them lightly, but do all we can to preserve them.
But Scripture does promise us repeatedly that opposition, hatred and persecution is the regular lot of the believer. If and when we do lose our freedoms in the once free West, then we keep on keeping on, by the grace of God. Until that happens however, such freedoms are well worth fighting for.
And we must keep the bigger picture in mind here. As important as religious liberty is, this is ultimately about a full-fledged war on Christianity itself. That is the endgame here, and that is what all believers should be deeply concerned about.
As David French rightly put it, “The battle is not between gay rights and religious liberty—although religious liberty is certainly at stake—but between the sexual revolution and Christianity itself.” To be glib about this all-out war on our faith is not the right response.
Sure, it may have been predicted in Scripture. Sure, it may have occurred so often in church history. But that does not mean we just take a defeatist and reckless attitude here and put up the white flag of surrender. No, we stand and fight, even until we are the last man standing. Anything less is a dereliction of duty.
So please, stop the glib remarks. These are serious matters indeed, and not to be taken lightly. Platitudes and clichés just do not help here that much.