This post originally published on a previously-owned blog and was imported here to simplify my life. Please excuse any confusion due to this merge. I hope you enjoy the content!
This is My Persecution
Questions like these have always rattled my mind:
— How strong a Christian would I be in persecuted areas?
— Would I have the courage to attend secret house churches?
— Would I have a faith that could endure a lack of simple Bibles?
— Would I be bold at all?
Surely I am not the only one to wonder these things.
I found myself asking all these questions again one late night in the quiet corners of my home. And whether it was the Lord or my own mind wandering, the thought came:
This is my persecution.
This world, this American culture, this “easy” life is my own persecution in the way of testing my faith – with different types of challenges and things to overcome.
I’m in no way diminishing the atrocities that happen to my fellow brothers and sisters around the globe. I’m in no way less empathetic and brought to tears when I hear of the dark, horrific things that happen to those who profess Christ in certain areas.
I am, however, trying to stop asking myself those above questions so often and to begin focusing on where God has placed me – where He decided I’d be born, when, to what family and so on. There has to be a reason and I’ll never know why because, well, I’m not God. But I sure can focus on the here and now, stop feeling guilt for being here and figure out how to live obediently!
I’ve never had my life threatened. I’ve never had my husband put in jail because he lives for Jesus. I’ve never been nervous about my children being punished for my faith.
But I have other issues here in the U.S.A. I have a whole other set of temptations and worldly situations that are so comfortable and enticing. I have strong influences, pressures, distractions even in my friends and family.
I’ll never know the life a “persecuted Christian” lives. I’ve not grown up that way. And surely these people have issues with relatives or cultural expectations that aren’t God’s expectations or problems with laziness, pride and a number of other sins listed in the Bible. But it’s also become clear to me that the enemy persecutes any Christian. I don’t want to dishonor those dozens of fellow Jesus followers who are dying each month in certain world areas, please understand that.
But there comes a point when I need to make sure my own soul is where it should be – that I’m being the counter-cultural believer I’m supposed to be. That I’m obeying God through all the temptation, trials and faith-testing conversations. And that I’m allowing the “persecution” of my sacrifices to refine me and build my perseverance.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
– James 1:2-4
And, if I may be so bold, with all the mediocrity and lukewarmness of our American Christian culture, I sometimes feel it would be easier to be a Christian “over there” than here. It’s all or nothing. You’re in or your out. There’s no, “Yeah, I go to church” casual comments because that’s a life-or-death statement in other countries, depending on who is told. There’s no giving one’s life to Jesus and then just sitting in a pew for 45 minutes a week. There’s no owning 12 different translations of the Bible just to collect dust on your display shelf.
Just as each one of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
– Romans 12:4-5
I’ve seen or heard quite a bit on “overcoming the guilt” concerning our persecuted brothers and sisters, accepting the blessing of living in a free country and figuring out how to use that blessing to support these fellow Christians losing their lives for their faith. But join me in taking that one step further – more broadly, if you will. We need to overcome that guilty feeling and figure out God’s call in our lives. With complete obedience, we should pursue his plan for us — whether that means starting a Christian daycare in your neighborhood or moving to Europe to help care for refugees.
The devil has an incalculable amount of ways he can attack. He can pounce on tiny weaknesses that only you know about. So this channel of obedience we need to maintain with God is going to look differently for all of us. What does yours look like? Have you ever felt persecuted? Do you struggle with this type of guilt? Let’s talk about it!
Finally, ask yourself: