Thursday, November 7, 2013

Persecution in the American Church (An Apology to the American Church)


I hear through word-of-mouth in the States how persecuted the Christians are there. Typically I silently scoff, because I have been exposed to sources that teach about persecution in the wider world, persecution that includes physical harm, property damage, threats, and death.

America is home of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Christianity isn't very popular in America right now, but in my mind, that was nowhere near the same as persecution. In my mind, to make that claim was to dishonor the real persecuted church in the world.

As I researched the persecuted church and gathered resources for prayer & knowledge, I came across this quote in the IDOP Resources for Churches.

"DOES PERSECUTION HAPPEN IN THE UNITED STATES?
ANSWER: Persecution in the United States is not full-fledged when compared to the horrific physical violence in other countries. However, persecution exists as Christian’s rights are constricted by the government institutions, such as public schools and work places. The culture of political correctness severely restricts speech. Christians can be easily labeled as bigots and haters when people rise up to speak the truth. The Pew Forum reports that government restrictions on religious freedom (such as zoning permits for churches) and social hostility for religious groups in the United States have increased in the past four years."
-Created by the International Christian Concern at Persecution.org (no copyright infringement intended)

So...I was wrong, there is mild persecution in the American church. It is not the persecution seen in the 50 countries with the most persecution, but it still exists. I apologize for scoffing at the persecution I thought was in your minds.

Now the question remains to be asked...What should the American church do about this persecution?

1. Pray...thanking God for that we can suffer for His name (Acts 5:17-42). 
2. Pray...thanking God that we will have a reward in heaven & that Jesus says the persecuted are blessed (Matthew 5:10-12). 
3. Pray...thanking God nothing can separate us from His love (and nothing includes persecution) (Romans 8:35-39).
4. Pray...thanking God that while man persecutes us, He doesn't abandon us (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
5. Pray...for our persecutors (Matthew 5:43-45)
6. Expect hate & persecution from the world, especially in the end times. (Matthew 24:1-14 and Luke 21:5-19 and John 15:18-25 and Acts 8:1 and 1 Thessalonians 3:4)
7. Bless our persecutors (Romans 12:14)
8. Endure persecution. Give blessings in response to cursing. Answer kindly in the face of slandering. (1 Corinthians 4:12-13)
 9. Accept persecution as a fact of following God's way (2 Timothy 3:12 )
10. Pray...for believers to have the "roots" to withstand persecution and not fall away from the faith (Matthew 13:1-23 and Mark 4:1-20)
11. Pray...for believers who left their homes & families and receive persecution for their faith (Mark 10:29-31)
12. Pray...for those who face worse persecution, persecution involving threats, violence, and death. Pray with a newly found sympathy and empathy for your brothers & sisters around the world who face the same thing (persecution), at times much more severely than we can imagine. Pray for God to protect & comfort His children in the persecuted church.

 Persecution exists in the world. As Christians, what will be the response we choose?

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