4 Lies We Tell Ourselves About Christian Persecution

We've become experts at directing our attention away from a real, horrible problem.

Several months ago, I met an orthodox Jewish woman and we took the opportunity to discuss our respective faiths. One thing she said shook me and I haven’t been able to forget it:

“What I don’t understand is how Christians are being killed and oppressed all over the world right now, and American Christians aren’t doing anything about it. If that were happening to Jews, we’d be doing everything we could to stop it.”

All I could say was, “You’re right. It frustrates me, too.”

Genocide is a heavy word to throw around. But that’s what many feared was facing minority religious groups in Iraq recently as terrorist group ISIS swept through regions that have been occupied by Christians for 1,800 years.

Last month, many of the last Christians fled the area after ISIS gave them an ultimatum: convert, pay or die.

Sadly, this is not the only place in the world where Christians are facing intense persecution. Recently, as part of a crackdown of religious minorities in Saudi Arabia, dozens of Saudi Christians were arrested during a prayer meeting. In the past year, we have heard of people imprisoned and sentenced to death in Sudan and Iran, churches bombed in Pakistan, and the thousands held in labor camps in North Korea. All because of their faith in Christ.

We are under fire. Not them. Us, the global Body of Christ. We are being bombed, tortured, imprisoned, ostracized, forced to flee, killed. We know we have a voice. Why are we simply shaking our heads and remaining silent? I think there are a few lies we’re believing that are keeping us from being united for Christ across the globe.

1. We Have Our Own Problems to Worry About.

Sure, the Church in America faces its own obstacle course of issues. These challenges should be prayed about fiercely and attacked with wisdom and courage. But since when is that a good excuse?

In Luke 9, Jesus tells the guys who want to tidy up their own lives before following Him that the Kingdom of God doesn’t work that way. We—as individuals or one particular nation—don’t come first.

2. They’re Better Than Us; We Can’t Help Them.

It’s awkward that they’re suffering and we aren’t. Paul told us “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Do we want to look into the eyes of someone dying for the cause we claim to be living for and say, “Hey, dude, I’m praying for you”?

We hate feeling guilty, but we have to let conviction take the wheel and drive us where we need to be to take up our cross for Christ. Sometimes that starts with the humility of setting our meager offerings down before someone who wrote the book on sacrifice.

3. Persecution Means Church Growth and We Don’t Want to Get in the Way. 

Yes, persecution often spurs exponential growth. Paul even says we should rejoice in suffering (Romans 5:3); in it we are following Christ’s example. We can always rejoice in the fact the Gospel is spread, even if it’s through persecution (Paul did as much). But that doesn’t mean we let our brothers and sisters take a beating when we can do something about it. When Peter was thrown in prison, the early Jerusalem church didn’t say, “Go get ‘em, Pete!” and then go back to their own lives. They earnestly prayed for him, and he was miraculously freed (Acts 12:1-19).

What if we prayed fervent, consistent prayers for specific missionaries working in countries hostile to Christianity? What if gave money to help train pastors whose seminary aspirations are about as likely as me attending Hogwarts? What if we sent Bibles to places where entire communities share one copy? Would we be stamping out revival then? Or might the Spirit of God work through that global effort to do something truly world-changing?

Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”

We are one in Christ. Jesus told His followers, “by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned and tortured for preaching Christ in Romania during the reign of communism. He later founded Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) to bring help to the persecuted and awareness to the pampered. In his book Tortured for Christ, Wurmbrand says one of the greatest encouragements to the underground church was just to know their fellow believers around the world knew of their plight and their cause and were standing with them. The persecuted Christians he knew weren’t asking for rescue as much as they were asking for prayer, support and resources to keep pressing on.

4. We Can’t Really Make a Difference. 

Here are just a few tangible things we can do to show our love for our persecuted brothers and sisters:

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Pray. It’s the ultimate catalyst. VOM has updates to keep you informed on prayer needs. The World Watch List provides information on the countries most hostile to Christianity and how to pray for them.

Learn and Share. Check out the websites of organizations like VOM and Open Doors, Read Tortured for Christ (VOM will send you a copy for free), Foxe’s Book of Martyrs or the Jesus Freaks books. Stay up to date on the global church and let others know what’s happening. Don’t be silent!

Give. You can give money, of course, but also words of encouragement when you write a letter to a prisoner. You can also give your name to a petition or your opinion to your government representatives.

It’s about time we started acting like family.

Top Comments

James Burns

2

James Burns commented…

This is a great article. Thanks for the list. It is very timely.

I pray that our brethren will have the strength to endure and that they will do God's will. I don't want them to be pulled out of harms way before they have done what God wants them to do. Also, I don't think it is God's will that we use the sword to defend the cross. Where would God's glory be in that? I also worry that politicians will use real stories about Christian suffering to justify a war for carnal reason.

James

Steve Knudtsen

2

Steve Knudtsen commented…

Cross cultural differences, and theological differences are part of the problem. In the melting pot of western Christianity we don't understand the branches of Ancient Christianity; Orthodox, Catholic, Maronite, Coptic and others. For most protestants the Christian Faith started with Martin Luther. There is no knowledge of Byzantium and how Christianity formed the world from India to Ireland by the 2nd century.

Many protestants, myself included, were brought up to see the pope as the "anti-Christ", or at least the Catholic church as corrupt and evil. The thought of a universal church, bigger than "my denomination" is very hard to grasp, and even harder to embrace when our fellow Christians have such a different life and such a different faith.

16 Comments

Chris Bassett

1

Chris Bassett commented…

Good word. Misses only the command "Go". Are you spending you vacations on self, or on going to places where you can have impact?

Jim

31

Jim commented…

It's interesting how Christians claim to support religious freedom and condemn religious persecution when their own doctrines declare that all non-Christians should be condemned for their religion (or lack of it) and persecuted for eternity.

If the "hell" of Christian theology isn't the epitome of religious persecution, I don't know what is.

Jim

31

Jim replied to Mark Wade's comment

I agree with your last point, Mark… and a very small box it is.

I must disagree, however, that "beliefs or doctrines are found in the Bible," for they are instead what people develop from their interpretations of the Bible. It is the traditions of men which have tried to define what are, and what are not, acceptable beliefs.

As far as free-will is concerned, it is a seemingly sincere, but ultimately self-righteous and faulty, viewpoint designed to give man credit for the works of God. If the ignorant, deceived, and fallible will of man is going to take precedence over God's perfect will then there is no hope for any of us. I prefer to place my faith in the God who is working all things according to the counsel of HIS will, not yours or mine.

Mark Wade

30

Mark Wade replied to Jim's comment

Jim I absolutely concur that much of what we see and hear today that is labeled as “doctrine” is nothing more than one person’s conscience driven agenda. Unknowingly they teach as follows: “this is what my conscience dictates how to follow God, how to obey Him, how to stay out of trouble”…now everyone else must do the same”.
There are real issues with that way of teaching.
The doctrine I adhere to is pretty basic:
1. The plan for man and God’s coexistence has always been an authoritative executive action. That plan was sealed when Jesus fulfilled his part of overcoming death. His death/resurrection sealed the covenant with man, a covenant void of law (that part throws my dogmatic friends)
2. We must believe that He was man and God, and is still God.
3. Realizing these decisions made by the Creator should transform us in how we think, live, see, and treat all others. That transformation is of the heart and needs to be manifested in our daily lives.

Everything else is advice.

I’ve heard many things concerning free will, most recently, that it does not exist. And this is where I think we cannot reconcile. A man who is forced to obey his God might be saved, but a man whose heart is transformed and willingly walks in newness of life is a glory to His God. There is no accuser against the one who strives for this.

Peace to you in your journey

Jim

31

Jim replied to Mark Wade's comment

Mark, thanks for an interesting conversation. I wish you the best of luck in adhering to your doctrine.

Steve Knudtsen

2

Steve Knudtsen commented…

Cross cultural differences, and theological differences are part of the problem. In the melting pot of western Christianity we don't understand the branches of Ancient Christianity; Orthodox, Catholic, Maronite, Coptic and others. For most protestants the Christian Faith started with Martin Luther. There is no knowledge of Byzantium and how Christianity formed the world from India to Ireland by the 2nd century.

Many protestants, myself included, were brought up to see the pope as the "anti-Christ", or at least the Catholic church as corrupt and evil. The thought of a universal church, bigger than "my denomination" is very hard to grasp, and even harder to embrace when our fellow Christians have such a different life and such a different faith.

KE Lasca

3

KE Lasca commented…

I agree with Mr. Knudtsen. The enemy has "divided and (almost) conquered" us Christians and we don't even realize it. Lie "#5 should be: that "persecution is not happening right here on American soil". Our ignorance of, and separation from, AMERICAN Christians of other denominations and races makes us blind to the fact that Christian persecution is happening right under our noses. Our country was founded with a Christian vision in mind; the majority of our founding Fathers even went to seminary! Yet for decades and decades, we've allowed President after President to create the conditions in our society which would diminish those values in favor of materialistic, satanic ones, until the whole system collapsed. Can we question why prayer is no longer acceptable in our schools? Can we question why mainstream television and media is now "moral-less", and goes against everything Jesus stands for? Can we even question that verdicts in recent court cases surrounding African American men seem so unjust, when the bible has actually been taken out of the court room as the standard of truth, liberty, and justice for all? Can we really say we're progressive as a nation, when we watched as people have literally been swept out of their homes and cheated out of their pensions by the crooked financial system that targeted them: where not one banker has been prosecuted? Are we really OK with a Congress that's held this country hostage and eroded the hope for the change we felt when President Obama was first sworn in, with 2 million of us saying the Lord's Prayer along with him? Are we OK that schools in wealthy neighborhoods have so much, while the schools in poor neighborhoods still have so little; and, as a result, the jails fill to unseen proportions: 50 years after Christian Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King AND Muslim Leader Malcolm X were shot dead, and a church with 4 praying little girls was bombed? We stand - just barely - as a divided Christian majority, which, by the way, 78% of Americans claim to be: yet we think "they" are supposed to "fix themselves": instead of "WE", millions of us standing together as ONE FAITH in JESUS CHRIST. The issues our society faces are MORAL ones: not racial or economic, as the enemy wants us to believe. America's supposed to be a nation built "by the people, for the people"; "one nation, under God, UNDIVISIBLE...But Jesus certainly would not approve of what America has become (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

Dan Kreppel

1

Dan Kreppel commented…

We will be persecuted for our beliefs. It was said by the Son. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. For whoever shall believe in Him shall not die, but have everlasting life! Now that is different from the rest by a long shot;!!

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