Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christian "persecution?" Pul-leez!

About 30 years ago, when I was watching the 700 Club on a regular basis, host Pat Robertson once made a comment about an "anti-Christian conspiracy." Considering that Jesus said that "if they hated me they will hate you," such a statement would be understandable.

But that's not what Robertson really meant -- the context was that we Christians were losing our privileged status in American society. Trouble is, that isn't something to be concerned about because when you are you often end up becoming a persecutor in your own right.

Let's remember that this took place arguably at the height of what I refer to as media evangelicalism, where the message of the Gospel often ended up being muddied because programs needed to stay on the air -- and the easiest way to do that is, of course, to identify an enemy and try to defeat it. Muddied because the message of the grace of God through Jesus Christ was pushed aside of favor of a more lucrative "culture war."

And that's an issue of theology, as it demonstrates a lack of trust in God for anything except "fire insurance."

Furthermore, political freedom simply isn't addressed in the Word of God; Christians in other countries understand this, so they simply do what they do regardless of what the authorities say. The church in mainland China is growing as an astronomical rate -- in a climate that's hostile to any form of religious faith. (Indeed, it seems to thrive in those conditions.)

On top of that, if American evangelical Christians were undergoing legitimate persecution they would back anyone regardless of faith affiliation that also suffering. I can't think of one instance, however, in which we have.

A couple of generations ago a social movement, inspired by prayer and revival meetings in churches, arose, in the process changing an entire region of this nation. The opposition became so fierce that participants were being killed, churches were being bombed and pastors were being jailed -- and yet the movement stayed strong and prevailed. Most "Christians," however, in that day ignored it, many even opposing it.

I guess you know by now that I'm talking about the civil-rights movement, challenged not just because of racism but that the movement threatened -- yep -- some folks' privileged status. It's one reason for the racial divide in the church.

Early in my Christian life I learned the acronym JOY -- Jesus, Others, Yourself -- as to where our focus should be. Also remember that He said that persecution is inevitable, so we shouldn't worry about it.

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