Where's the Persecution?
Unlike the prosperity claims that continue to enthrall the modern Church, the expectations of God’s people should not be worldly blessing but worldly harm. In fact Biblically speaking, persecution is not just a possibility for Christians, it’s a certainty.
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” –2 Timothy 3:12
“…through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” –Acts 14:22
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” –Romans 8:36
“A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” –John 15:20
And that’s just a sampling. Simply put, the Bible gives us an undeniable guarantee that following Jesus places you at enmity with this world and thus the recipient of the world’s maltreatment.
This only begs the question for the American Christian, where’s the persecution? We are free to publicly identify ourselves as Christians, we are free to worship when and where we choose, and we certainly aren’t being imprisoned or martyred for our faith. We American Christians are able to live comfortable pleasant lives along with the rest of society, which is the furthest thing from the experience of the New Testament Church and certainly not what Jesus seemed to promise His followers.
This should trouble us deeply.
Someone recently put it to me like this, “If the Bible promises persecution to followers of Jesus, then either I’m not following Jesus or the Bible is wrong, which means I’m not following Jesus”
So where’s the persecution?
Well first it must be said that we are indeed being persecuted. In fact we are suffering the greatest persecution the Church has ever endured.
Individualizing statements in the Bible is such an American thing to do. The Bible says we are being killed all day long, and we are. But the “we” is bigger than then me. The promise is that God’s people will always be a suffering people, and that has always held true.
Things like this are happening every day, and what’s happening to her is happening to us. Literally, she is us because we are a Body. So indeed all day long we are regarded as sheep for the slaughter.
Where’s the persecution? Perhaps that question means we need to repent of our self-consumption, recognize the Body of Christ as the Body of Christ, and pray for our persecuted brethren.
But even still, Paul says all who desire to live a Godly life will be persecuted. It seems the Biblical expectation is that every culture will be antagonistic towards Christ’s Church, and every follower of Jesus will have a cross to bear. And this is true. But we must remember that persecution takes many different forms.
The West has become too refined and sophisticated to accept the barbaric persecutions of the undeveloped world, but don’t be fooled; progressive society despises God’s people and the gospel we proclaim. Our persecution is subtle, refined, insidious, hidden behind the veneer of progress.
Lesslie Newbigin prophetically spoke of the modern world creating a plausibility structure (an acceptable way of thinking and living) that has no room for Christianity. In other words, our persecution takes the form of marginalization.
Slowly our whole belief system and way of life becomes untenable. Identifying oneself as a Christian and living as such becomes the uncontested fallacy of society, met with either sheer disdain (you archaic people are what’s wrong with this world) or patronizing confusion (I didn’t know people like you still exist in our world).
It’s actually a brilliant ploy from the evil one, much more successful than killing us. History has proven that nothing spreads Christianity more than trying to kill it off, which is why the Church is currently exploding in our most fiercely persecuted regions. But it’s dying in the West. Why? Our persecution is far more effective.
It won’t martyr us; it will marginalize us. It won’t kill your children; it will make your children feel silly and foolish for believing what their blindly delusional parents believe. It won’t kill the Church; it will lull the Church asleep with the songs of postmodernism, affluence, entertainment, and comfort, rendering it obsolete and ineffective, just a nice little philanthropic organization.
Make no mistake about it; the world (including our world) hates Jesus and His people. The Church will be persecuted as the Scriptures promise, and it may come as a surprise to you to discover that we find ourselves in the heat of perhaps the most effective form of persecution ever devised – the secularization of the West.
So where’s the persecution? Right in front of us, and we don’t even see it.
Perhaps we need the persecuted Church to pray for us.