Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Should Persecution Matter to Us

Thanks to advanced technology I've been able to talk to some friends of mine behind the Muslim curtain.

It's not easy on them. Some have been jailed, others harassed. They worship with the awareness that they could be beaten or jailed.

But the surprising thing to me, as an American whose biggest discomfort is self-imposed exercise, is that they don't think persecution is abnormal for the Christian life.

Suffering is normal to these former-Muslim believers.

I'm beginning to wonder if our lack of suffering weakens our faith in Christ.

I'm starting to think that my prized convenient, efficient life may actually be killing my spirituality, stifling evangelism and creating idol dependency in the US.

I'm wondering if our lack of persecution should matter more.

Especially when I hear conservative estimates are that over one million people have converted to Christ in Ir@n in the last three years.


Dick Ness (aka Crash Snider) said...

I have often envied the very clear, black and white sense of purpose and faith that persecution would bring. We do need to strip away all the crap, the static that obscures what really matters. Persecution would do that.

Do I really know what I'm saying, what I am asking for, the ramifications and reality of it? No. How could I?

Be careful what you wish for... we might just get it.

Sloan said...

I haven't been visiting your blog as often as I ought, Jim, but this post got my attention for some reason. These are just some thoughts...looking back over them, I'm not even sure they directly address the issue raised in the post, but hey! when did sticking to the subject ever stop me from shooting off my mouth?

I think, when hearing about the sufferings of other Christians in other cultures, we have a natural tendency to assume that because WE are not likewise suffering we are somehow doing something wrong. When put in perspective, our lack of persecution is simply the result of living in a country with a longstanding tradition of religious tolerance, pluralism, and a general acquiescence to the gist (but not necessarily the actual "heart") of the Christian message. I thank God for that and I'm sure you do too.

These poor brothers and sisters in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia aren't being persecuted for preaching on street corners or publicly criticizing their government's policy on religious tolerance. They're facing persecution for merely discussing their faith with people at work, or simply starting up a house church or Bible study, or even for carrying a Bible in public. All they have to do to attract unwanted attention is to simply BE Christians.

So I don't feel guilty about this, but I do feel very, very blessed. We have so much opportunity here. Our difficulty in THIS culture is making the Message relevant to a people who generally don't think the Message is relevant or even necessarily true any more.

Pastor Jim said...

@Dick and @Sloan,
You all raise some good questions and issues. I'm not sure that I'm ready to ask for more persecution for us here in the US.

The dilemma for me is that Christ equated receiving God's Word with being hated by the world (John 17:14). It appears to me that I am not hated, that few Christians experience this aspect of Christ's message.

So I have to ask, 'Should we be more concerned that we are not peresecuted?'

I'll keep it personal for now. Is there something flawed about my Christian spirituality in that I do not take much if any heat for being a Christian?

On a more broad level, should we who work in the marketplace follow unbiblical mandates to not proselytize at work?

Isn't witnessing to people, whether it is politically correct or could cost you your job, essential to the Christian life? I think so.

Do you have to be a jerk or thump people over the head? No. But if you do not witness for Christ because of fear, then I think the enemy of our faith has won.