Could persecution of Christians actually happen in America? We are being mildly persecuted right now through slander and ridicule. Persecution always begins mildly but then it builds in intensity. Hitler began persecuting Jews by ridiculing them through propaganda so he could brainwash the public to hate them. Once he had the majority on his side, the rest was easy.
I’m not sure how or when the heat will be turned up, but it will happen when Christian beliefs are no longer tolerated by our society. Everyone will have the freedom of speech and expression except if you talk about Jesus or what He taught. You will be penalized in some way if you express your beliefs. But remember, Jesus told His followers to expect this. “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
How are we to react to persecution? Jesus said, “Do not resist him who is evil, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also…But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:39, 44). He’s telling us how to react when we are persecuted. In order to not react wrongly, we must view persecution in a different way. After the apostles were flogged they went on their way “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).
When real persecution breaks out, here is what could possibly happen:
- Many people will stop attending church. People will be stigmatized for going to church. Persecution will drive out the unbelievers and the uncommitted. Even many committed Christians will leave as they feel God is finished with the established church and will find new places to meet and worship.
- Many churches will close their doors because the decrease in attendance and offerings will not be enough to pay the mortgage and operating expenses. Only the churches that are financially stable and have enough dedicated members will be able to stay open.
- Many Christians will go underground and meet in homes. After Stephen was martyred, the early church scattered. “And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria…but Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison” (Acts 8:1,3). Many Christians in other countries meet in homes as did the early church.
God promises to greatly reward us when we endure persecution with the right attitude. “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12). Jesus said if we could see our great reward in heaven, we would be jumping for joy!
The Lord will always supply the grace and strength to endure all persecution, so there is no need to fear it. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com www.makinglifecount.net
Making Life Count Ministries
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