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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