A Persecuted Church?

Should we revel in persecution? Should we measure our faith by the number of people who hate us?

Honestly, these are things I’ve never considered. In an article posted at FaithStreet.com Russell D. Moore explains his position that the church should become “strange” again and purports that this can happen by becoming a church that attracts persecution. He argues that Christianity shouldn’t be so “normal” that it’s popular.

But here’s what I don’t get… If persecution is a measuring stick by which we can determine how well we’re doing this God thing, wouldn’t that mean there are LESS Christians around us? And if we’re in a place where we can freely practice our faith, why wouldn’t we be attracting those without faith? And if we’re living our faith accurately and thus attracting others to us, then we would be increasing in number and then be persecuted less – right?

When I was reading the comments on Russel’s article, I realized that maybe the reason I disagree with the premise is because we’re not sharing a common definition of “persecution.” He seems to be saying that Christians shouldn’t live in an expected sense of easiness. He seems to have issue with the “Prosperity Gospel.” And that, I agree with.

But I don’t think that’s persecution – I think that’s being human and living with honesty.

No one should pretend to be happy all the time – that’s not real.

No one should act like her faith never wavers because all the hate, abuse, and dishonesty in the world (and in the church) is hard to miss. If the disciples doubted Jesus and he was RIGHT THERE, I think it’s safe to say you and I might struggle some days too.

No one deserves anything just because she’s been blessed enough to choose Him.

Plus, I think it’s weird to wish suffering on yourself or others – no matter the reasoning.

Are missionaries and others blessed immensely because they are persecuted? I believe so. But I also think that once one is truly persecuted, she would never wish that on someone else.

Don’t you think the persecuted pray for relief? And strength? And mercy? 

I don’t think that it’s everyone’s spiritual journey. Just like not every single Christian is meant to live in North Korea or Iran, not every Christian is meant to live a life of intense persecution.

Is that a weak view of Christianity? I don’t know. Will some people think that “real” Christians can take the persecution and those that can’t didn’t really ever have faith? I suppose so.

Some people also think that “real” soldiers don’t suffer from PTSD and that’s not done a lot for an ever rising suicide rate among our military.

I think there’s something to be said for the people who brave the unknown places in our own country – who reach out to the homeless, the prostitutes, and the abused that live here and show them love. The world has persecuted them – they don’t need a faith that will do the same. They need a faith of love, of redemption, of hope and forgiveness.

Should we devalue their story because they find peace through their faith?

And isn’t one of the strangest things we can do, love? Like, really love. With a blindingly unconditional love. Where we throw our arms and hearts and homes open and believe that God will do the changing – all we need to do is love.

That’s a wild faith – one that believes God can move in someone without us ever opening our own mouths.

——————-

When I was very young and eager (aka judgmental), I heard this song for the first time and I remember thinking – Oh my God, he’s right. He’s so right. Now I think the words are a little corny and I’m not a huge fan of the melody, but it still holds the same weight and carries the same reminder.

Here’s a video if you want to hear the song and see lots of mean signs and LifeWay t-shirts. Or just read some lyrics below…

“They’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear/ They’ll know us by the way we point and stare/ At everyone whose sin looks worse than ours/ Thinking we can hide the scars of this curse that we all bear/ They’ll know us by our picket lines and signs/ They’ll know us by the pride we leave behind/ And isn’t that why Jesus died/ Not to make us think we’re right/ When love, love, love is what we should be known for….”
Derek Webb

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A Week’s Worth of Other People’s Stories

BloggingTools

I want to do this kind of round up weekly. Some of my favorite bloggers do similar things here and here. Their collective posts like these are always my favorite because they help me find new bloggers, new ideas, and challenge me to read outside the comfortable collection I’m amassing for myself. I hope they do the same for you!

To acknowledge an old friend and commend her for Speaking Up:

Anyway, my therapist assured me that while I do make a good point, she also has a gut feeling, and I bought that. I have gut feelings too — strong instincts, intuitions — but when OCD flares up it’s like having a broken intuition. Battling intuitions. Multiple intuitions screaming at you all at the same time and they all want to be right. I am never not exhausted.

– Sarah Certa in Obsessing About My New Obsession With This Blog…

To make you think:

Listen, I don’t believe in a puppet master God. Or a vindictive God. I don’t believe that God needs me to be weakened or harmed. I don’t believe that God is teaching me a lesson. But I do believe in God like a wild wind that blows through and picks up all the dust. I do believe that the loss and emptiness is blessed because it will be filled. And I believe this, too. That it is a better path to be filled with a sacred song than with a thousand illusions of comfort or security. We are wired for struggle. And the struggle can be sacred, too.

Esther Emery in In the Hollowing (When I am a Singing Bowl)

To make you laugh (and think!):

Every time I pass a man in a well-tailored suit, I try to keep my eyes averted to avoid the evil, lustful thoughts that will surely creep into my head. Sometimes I’m successful. Other times…I’m in an office building and I find my senses assaulted by a sea of men in strutting around in well-tailored suits, smelling of cologne and after-shave and…….[gazes out the window] Don’t these men have any self respect? Do they even understand how their clothing affects me? I wonder what is going through men’s heads when they decide to dress this way. All I know is that when a man wears a nice suit with pants that are juuuust tight enough, I will notice.

LP at The Salt Collective in When Suits Become A Stumbling Block

To make you remember:

My fifteen year old girls expressed that they are already afraid. They already know they have to be afraid. I don’t think very many of them had their parents teach them anything about misogyny. They just know that there is danger. That dudes are creepy sometimes. That people touch or look or say what they shouldn’t and this is the reality of living in a very good suburb of in America and being a girl.

– Abby Norman in #YesAllWomen So What Do I Tell My Girls?

To tell an important story:

Protesters took to social media with the hashtag #takedownthatpost encouraging others to share and write letters to the editors and even to advertisers. Bloggers blogged insightful articles on why the post should not have seen the light of day and the pressure grew.

– Heather Celoria at The Junia Project in A Cautionary Tale…

To challenge a preconceived idea (for some):

I am not gonna tell you what to do – that is the work of purity culture & legalism & I want no part of it. But I am gonna ask you – please, for your sake, for your partner’s sake, for your marriage’s sake & for the sake of the generation you will likely bear & raise – do not neglect your bodies. Not yours, and not your partner’s. You were created, fearfully and wonderfully, and you get the sobering, exhilarating task of being REAL together.

– Hannah Paasch in Physical Compatibility is a Thing

To help you feel ok in the silence:

I was drawing near to God. Why wasn’t he near to me? How had I moved? How did I get back?
These questions only highlighted my own inadequacy, my own failure, my own unworthiness. The girl who had defined herself, always, by God’s presence began to define herself then by his absence. By the fact that nothing I did seemed to bring me near enough to feel his breath, to hear his whisper.

– Addie Zierman at A Deeper Story in If You Feel Far Away From God, Guess Who Moved?

Share some of your favorite blog posts from the week in the comments!!! Seriously, I love THIS.

Why blog? Why now?

I am terrified to do this. To step out of my documents and notebooks that are just for me and share my thoughts. But I think that’s why I need to do it. I’ve spent the last few months processing years of my life and I’m not done, but I’ve come to some realizations about who I am and why I am this woman. I’ve read hundreds of blog posts and wrote dozens of pages in reflection and I want to set them free.

Lately, I’ve been infatuated with the word liberated. In fact, I wanted to get it tattooed on my body, with some beautiful wildflowers, until my friend told me I might as well tattoo “regret” on myself. I don’t know that I totally agree with her, but it put the idea to bed for awhile. I still love the word for all of its many connotations though.

I also love it because it’s how I’ve felt for the last few months as I’ve found my voice again. Right now, in this moment, it’s a defining word. On my 26th birthday I wrote about how each year is like a book and I’m pretty sure 25 and 26 will each have a chapter titled Liberated. They will have different stories, of how I was unwillingly liberated and then willingly liberated myself.

I want to use this blog to tell those stories.

There’s a show/program (I’m not quite sure what to call it) entitled Mortified that encourages adults to take to the stage and read from their middle school and high school journals. It’s fantastic. To revisit your writing in a public forum is brave and also hilarious, but beyond that it demonstrates that each of us has a story to tell. And it’s liberating to watch (and do!) I mention it because this, telling my stories, sharing my thoughts, is in many ways mortifying but also innately beautiful.

I spent years (7 to be exact) convinced I would be a journalist. I thought I would write inspiring feature stories and shine a light on injustice and use my story telling to change the world. It took me only a few months of reflection to realize that’s not what I was in for if I continued to pursue journalism as a career. But it’s never changed the summary of what I want to do because that is simple – I want to do good.  And I think writing is a tool I can use to do that.

So this blog is an exercise in liberation. And story telling. In lesson teaching and self-exploration. I want to add my voice (even if I’m terrified) to the chorus of women and men who are speaking up about what feels right and what feels wrong and how their past has shaped their present and what that means for the future.

I’m stepping out to struggle in public, feel free to join me if you’d like.