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Friday, September 10, 2010

Emulating Martyrdom

By Ron Graham

How is it that American Christians seem impervious to the extreme persecution that most of the rest of the world has been enduring for the past couple millennium? What makes us different? Why aren’t we being tortured and mutilated/beheaded like so many of our brothers and sisters worldwide? Don’t misunderstand; I’m pleased as punch for the freedom we enjoy in our open worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. But what evil lurks on our horizon?

“The twentieth century saw more Christians murdered for their faith than in all the previous centuries combined” – Chuck Missler – So what can those who unabashedly follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior expect to be confronted with in the 21st century?

The above question might well be on the minds of many of my brethren. We can pick up the newspaper and read about extreme Christian persecution almost every day, but it’s usually somewhere far removed from America. It should grieve our spirit to read about our brothers and sisters in Uganda or Somalia being butchered for their faith. In the Middle East Christians live in daily fear of being murdered. In China Christians are arrested everyday for holding firm to their faith and thrown into prison, many times for the remainder of their lives. Pakistan is another country that exhibits extreme cruelty toward Christians. In Bali, Indonesia the body of Christ suffers greatly; beheadings of Christ’s followers as well as bombs dismembering their bodies in this predominately Muslim country are all the rage. There are other nations treating Christians similarly, but what of America?

Here in America some Christian persecution has occurred, but nothing on the scale we read about in other countries. Just a few weeks ago I read about a man who was standing in front of a Planned Parenthood building, out on the public sidewalk no less, and he was arrested for silently praying. Praying in silence? How many of us have done that very thing, and in public? Even though that case has been dropped it is obvious Christians are being systematically discriminated against. We are losing our rights and freedoms to stand up for Christ in public. Another man who simply told a terminally ill patient to “trust God” was fired from his job as a counselor.

Although we believers in Christ see this as harassment it’s not near the persecution many of the saints in other countries are forced to endure. Neither the man arrested for praying in silence nor the man who was fired bear any resemblance to Washington Irving’s headless horseman. Most of the time these intrusions on our God given rights to share our faith or stand firm on God’s precepts are followed by press releases. When the ACLJ or the Liberty Council gets involved, these matters are soon resolved. For now this seems to be the routine, but there’s no doubt in this believer’s mind that those in authority in America are purposely pushing the “attack Christians” envelope.

I’ve written about pastors who teach the Bible to be simply a document contrived from the minds of men; the dumbing down of the Church creates huge gaps in the pews where true born again believers once sat. Now those pews are being filled by the unregenerate. Of course this would normally be a good thing except for the fact that the type of teaching currently being promoted by unbelieving pastors will only result in keeping the unregenerate, unregenerate.

So I’ll ask the question again. Why such a small amount of persecution on American Christians? Persecution in America pales when compared to the majority of the rest of the world. Here’s a thought, is it possible that would be persecutors don’t see a noticeable difference between themselves and those claiming to be Christians?

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee…” Genesis 12:3. I know many refer to the US’s “helpful” association with Israel as the reason why there is so little persecution of American Christians. I see a problem here though, not only is our government cursing Israel by forcing the Jews out of their God given land, but denominational churches are cursing Israel by their false belief that the Church has replaced Israel. Since that is the case, shouldn’t we rethink the reason why American Christians seem to be impervious to the extreme persecution we currently see spreading across this globe?

The curse God places on those who curse Israel is not the persecution Jesus spoke about. The persecution Jesus speaks about, affecting all who follow Him, does not, nor will it ever, come from God.

There is a remnant of “in Christ” believers still remaining in this land we call America. Thus God’s hand of protection remains, for now. But have you noticed, though, how God seems to be somewhat easing His protection lately? Strange disasters have been seen for a few years now here in American that for the most part defies explanation. Who can explain September 11th 2001? How could a powerful nation – the most powerful nation on earth – allow something so devastating to be unleashed on its populous and its infrastructure? (Yes, those twin buildings which fell that day were a part of America’s infrastructure). Not to mention what it did to the American psyche.

All the disasters that have inflicted suffering on America’s populous will continue in frequency and severity, but they are unrelated to Christian persecution. It isn’t Christian persecution when entire nations suffer. The kind of persecution Jesus speaks of is reserved exclusively for those of us who follow Him, unashamed.

Is it just arrogance on the part of most Christians here in America to think we will escape this persecution? Jesus tells His followers that all those who follow Him will be persecuted. For those of you who still don’t get it, that includes His followers in America as well.

If it sounds as though I’m looking forward to the persecution Jesus speaks about you’ve got me all wrong. But I believe His word, therefore I know it is coming and there’s not a thing I can do but bear up under it. “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you…” John 15:20. Well, we know our Lord was severely persecuted which ultimately resulted in His execution. Millions of His followers have died horrible deaths. Could it be that American Christians are living in denial? I don’t know about the rest of you but I thoroughly enjoy my comforts and I hate pain, therefore I’m not looking forward to any persecution whatsoever, but I’ve resigned myself to accept God’s truth.

As I mentioned previously, a more precise reason for the general lack of persecution hitting America’s Christian church these days is that it’s very hard to find the true Church among the apostate. Yet, just as a pig will root out a stump to get to the grub worms, the true followers of Jesus Christ will likewise be rooted out.

What can we expect as the enemy constantly recruits followers to seek out and destroy Christ’s Church? I’m not sure, but all sorts of evils come to mind. We should be aware that Satan has a lot of ideally suited harassments at his disposal, as well as an army of followers who hate us. The young Columbine High School student who would not denounce her faith in Christ as she stood looking down the barrel of that Christ-hating murder’s gun might be a good example of what we can expect.

Will all people who call themselves Christian go through this persecution? No. Why? “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.” Mark 4:17. Many are Christian in name only, not in their hearts.

There is a huge groundswell of hate aimed toward Christians and that pot is being stirred by blogs all over the internet. Even our current government leadership is, and will continue to be, a satanically led force standing against Christ’s followers. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:19. The world on a whole is lost and they love their own. Many who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ reveal little if any Christian traits. The world, in many instances, can’t distinguish between themselves and the majority of the “Christian” Church. But how the world will react to true believers in Christ is becoming painfully obvious.

We who are the remnant Church will not see God’s wrath because God intends to pour out that wrath on a Christ-rejecting world. Christ’s Church will not be here to witness that piece of history unfold. But the wrath of God has nothing to do with the persecution believers “In Christ” are told to expect. Our persecution will be nothing compared to God’s wrath, which all who have rejected Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will see and feel.

No matter what evil comes our way, the followers of Jesus Christ are promised peace and joy and the strength to endure whatever the perishing world throws at us. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Romans 8:35-37.

We may, very soon now, find ourselves emulating the martyred Christians of the past. That’s millions of truly born again believers “In Christ” who put God first in their lives and refused to renounce Him as Savior and Lord. May the rest of us stand firm as well.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

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