Last week’s attack of professing Christians in Kenya underscores the growing hatred in the world towards the cross of Christ. Muslim extremist gunman stormed Garissa University College last week and slaughtered 148 people. Reportedly they knocked down dorm room doors and asked the residents if they were Muslim or Christian. Those who answered “Christian” were shot dead. As shocking as this is, it is just one more in a long line of such incidences. The world is increasingly turning its back on the plight of those who profess Christ. While it is perhaps easy for some to be complacent about this persecution given that it mostly happens in faraway lands, it is an enormous mistake for God’s people to fail to recognize the facts that are so obviously in front of us. Paul warned us in 2 Timothy 3:12,13 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. Some 2000 years after those words were written they are just as true as ever.
In America, people who profess Christ are not being butchered for their beliefs, but they are being persecuted nonetheless. Last week in Indiana, the Governor signed a bill that confirmed the constitutional right of every American to exercise their religious freedom. The outcry of a tiny minority of people – homosexuals – along with secular progressive liberals in politics and the entertainment industry and a main stream media that is very hostile towards Christian beliefs, rained down a firestorm on Governor Mike Pence, the people of Indiana and the all who cherish the freedoms of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The fact that one business owner expressed her opinion on operating her own business the way she wanted and then was subject to death threats and had to shut down her business was apparently of no concern to those who feel the 1st Amendment only applies to them. No, the larger agenda apparently is that people of faith be forced to accept those things that the Bible calls an abomination before the Lord.
The persecution of Christians and our beliefs was further seen last week when I read a review of the movie, “Killing Jesus” in the Houston Chronicle. To be fair I have not seen that movie and probably won’t see it. In the Chronicle’s review, the author referred to our Lord and His disciples as “JC and his homeboys”. I wonder if the Chronicle, or any other media outlet in the country, would have printed a review that was so disrespectful of Islam. You know the answer to that, don’t you?
While all of this makes my blood boil and certainly inspires me to vote against any and all politicians who ignore at best, and spit on at worst, the Word of God, the truth is that none of this should be a surprise. The Bible said it would be this way. People of the Word know that our real citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). More and more I appreciate the entirety of that verse: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps if more Christians were eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus rather than embracing the ways of the world, the cross of Christ might not be under such vigorous attack?
At the rate we are going, the day may well come when people in this country will be asked to denounce Jesus or face the consequences. Perhaps their business will be confiscated. Maybe their life savings will be taken. It may come to the point that someone will literally put a gun to my head and ask me if I’m a Christian or not. As unfathomable as these things may have once been to us, the reality is that it not beyond the realm of possibility to see that day is coming.
Peter and John once stood before the religious leadership of Israel and, under threat of punishment, they boldly proclaimed, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19,20) and “We ought to obey God rather than men (Act 5:29).
It is my prayer that God’s people will summon the courage and conviction to stand for the truth and to boldly and loudly proclaim it. God, make us fearless! Revive our spirit, O Lord, and remind us as Paul did Timothy, that You gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7).