“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets… Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:22-23, 26 (ESV)
There are some that view any serious consideration of the very real opposition that Christians face in the world as some sort of martyr complex. I have been accused of this many times by certain people speaking in ignorance. There is no “martyr” complex in admitting that you are badly treated by others if it is true. When you see gathering enemies of Christ, vocal calls for the harm of Christians, increasing levels of violence, and any violence that occurs labeled as “deserved”; then you are fairly safe to say that actual persecution is occurring.
Most people are somewhat confused on the issue of persecution, thinking that if no one is getting killed then it is not actually persecution. The biblical principle of persecution is quite broad as the above quote from Luke’s gospel illustrates. Persecution can, does, and is occurring in our comfortable nation and among your friends and relatives. These days we see just what Jesus said would be a sign of blessedness, Christians hated, excluded, cursed, sworn at, and slandered. Make no mistake this is happening now in Australia and most of the “western” nations. The perpetrators know full well they are involved in rampant wickedness and many of them celebrate this fact.
Anti-Christian persecutors of course will try to twist this around to make both Christians and Christ look horrid when these things happen. It will be claimed that it is hypocritical of Christians to not just lay down and cop it. “They deserve it because they’re happy when they are abused!” It will be claimed that the Christians had it coming because they dared to speak out against evil. They will be accused of all sorts of failings and evils, imagined if needed and real but inflated if possible.
What is the Christian response? Praise, Prayer, Faith, Godly living, and Gospel proclamation!
I have been sorely tempted of late to speak out about the hate filled aggression of some people. There is little to be gained by pointing out tit for tat style the failings of others. But there is much to be gained by praising God who gives life and all the blessings that I enjoy in Hobart daily. There is much to be gained by praying for the soul of these people caught in the snare of Satan and laboring before the Lord on their behalf. There is much to be gained in trusting in God and His ways even when faithfulness to His word leads to persecution. There is much to be gained in trying to keep God’s law to honour Him and turning away from and confessing sin whenever we fail. There is much to be gained from preaching the Gospel, woe is Australia that there are not more people preaching the Gospel as often and as potently as they can.
While I will not share the troubles I have from opponents, I will share one of my enduring prayers for our city, particularly relevant as we approach the time of Dark Mofo.
“Dear Heavenly Father, please be at work in Hobart. There are so many that Satan has successfully fooled into following him and serving him. They are wandering in the dark Lord! They claim they are free whilst exulting in the very chains that bind them. Free them Lord from sin and slavery! Please open their eyes to your glorious Son Jesus and lead them out of sin and rebellion to trust in Him. Please Father, save them. Especially those who are regularly seeking to prevent witnessing in Hobart. They are racing towards hell and they are oblivious, please open their eyes. Have grace Lord, have mercy Lord, for the sake of your great name. Amen.”
May God bless you and lead you to have a heart to love the lost this month. Pray without ceasing and let your light shine in the present dark age!