To My Fellow Christian Conservatives: This is No Time for a Pity Party

Such an attitude is unfitting for followers of Jesus the Lord.

Indian Christians pray during Easter at a Church in Gauhati, India, Sunday, April 1, 2018.

By Michael Brown Published on July 27, 2018

It is true that an ugly anti-Bible tide is rising in America. It is true that many conservative believers — Christians in particular — have been discriminated against, be it by the IRS or by the social media giants. And it is true that there is a growing hostility toward our beliefs on university campuses and in places of business. I don’t deny that for a moment. In fact, I have been documenting it for years.

But let’s not wallow and complain as if we are helpless and defeated. Let’s not throw a big, “Woe is me” pity party. Such an attitude is unfitting for followers of Jesus the Lord.

To be clear, I believe we should continue to document abuses. We should continue to push back in the courts of law. We should continue to expose inequity. We should continue to confront intolerance. The last thing I’m advocating is retreat and defeat.

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What I’m talking about here is our attitude. Do we have the attitude of overcomers or the attitude of complainers? Are we more focused on the very real opposition we are facing than on the (even more) real promises of God?

An Attitude of Victory

Earlier today, I was proofreading one of my chapters in a forthcoming book co-authored with New Testament scholar Craig Keener. The book is called Not Afraid of the Antichrist: Why We Don’t Believe in a Pre-tribulation Rapture, and it’s due out next March.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a “pre-tribulation rapture,” it refers to a widely-held, contemporary-evangelical belief that Jesus will “rapture” the Church before a final period of terrible suffering on the earth. That terrible period of time is called the Tribulation (or, at its worst, the Great Tribulation), a time of unprecedented pain and upheaval and wrath. It will be as if all hell breaks loose on the planet. Many Christians believe that Jesus will spare us from the worst of it, taking us safely to heaven until He returns in triumph.

There are many fine Christians who hold to this belief, including some of my dearest friends and co-workers. (Craig could say the same.) And so, it is not an area that we divide over. In fact, it’s an area most of us hardly even debate.

Do we have the attitude of overcomers or the attitude of complainers? Are we more focused on the very real opposition we are facing than on the (even more) real promises of God?

But as I was responding to our editor today, reviewing my chapter on how we overcome, I was struck by courageous mentality found throughout the New Testament writings. It is a mentality commonly found among persecuted Christians as well.

It’s an outlook that says, “Whatever Satan or the world means for evil, God will turn for good.”

It’s a mindset that thinks, “Go ahead and kill us. The faster you cut us down, the more quickly we will grow.”

It’s a mentality that says, “No matter what comes our way, no matter the cost of following Jesus, we are victorious in Him. We died with Him, and now we’re risen with Him. Who can possibly hurt us?”

Fearless Devotion

Both Craig and I have ministered among persecuted Christians in different parts of the world. Some of our friends or colleagues have been arrested and imprisoned. Others have been beaten or stoned. Some have been killed.

Yet among these precious brothers and sisters, you do not hear the voice of hopelessness. You do not witness the spirit of despair. In the midst of the agony and mourning, there is a sense of triumph. Sometimes there is downright joy.

In our new book, I tell the story of one my trips to India. (I’ve been there 25 times in the last 25 years.)

On one of those trips, I washed the feet of a martyr’s widow whose husband I had commissioned to plant churches. (He was killed as a church planter.) To say it was deeply moving would be a massive understatement.

Here in America, nothing we have suffered for our righteous stands can be compared to what these precious believers have suffered. Yet they danced and sang and rejoiced because it was all for their Lord.

On that same trip, we also washed the feet of pastors who had been persecuted for preaching the Gospel, one of them nearly beaten to death. He had won so many Hindus to the Lord that he was savagely attacked and lay in a coma for five days.

To make things even worse, in the hospital where he lay unconscious, a doctor had been bribed to kill him. But his family found out and rescued him, taking him out of the hospital while he was still in a coma, after which he gradually recovered at home.

Subsequently, he went back to the same area and began preaching again, winning to the Lord and baptizing the first man who had assaulted him, along with many others. He was then attacked once more and had to go into temporary hiding, but he was resolute in his desire to return and preach.

When I interviewed him through a translator, he showed no fear and considered it an honor to suffer for his Master, even bursting into song. We could learn something from this pastor!

Rejoicing After Suffering

I still remember vividly what happened on that day when we washed everyone’s feet. (There were two martyr’s widows there, along with one of their teenage daughters, plus all the pastors.)

The music had been somber, and there were many tears being shed. But then, once we were done, the music suddenly changed, and in a moment, the men were jumping and dancing and leaping and celebrating.

It is because they realized, “We have the privilege of being persecuted for righteousness! We have the honor of being treated like Jesus! What a high calling! What a joy!” It was really a sight to see.

Here in America, nothing we have suffered for our righteous stands can be compared to what these precious believers have suffered. Yet they danced and sang and rejoiced because it was all for their Lord. And even though the Hindu government was against them, they knew their God was greater still.

Let us take hold of that joyful, overcoming spirit. It is the spirit of faith. It is the spirit of truth. It is the spirit that will prevail.

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  • Andrew Mason

    I much prefer the cushy pre-trib ride, especially given I don’t believe most Christians will survive the tribulation, and the pace at which Western civilisation is embracing evil suggests the Rapture and Tribulation is likely to occur within my own lifetime. I hope I’m wrong, and turnaround is quite possible – America voted in Trump who is offering a breath of fresh air, plus there’s always the possibility of revival. On the other hand persecution would separate the sheep from the goats, help cleanly and clearly divide Christ followers from those who preach their own desires and claim them to be God’s. Would the Christian message shine brighter when the distinction between those who live and preach Scripture and those who live for themselves and preach their own message is clear? Certainly it seems that people in the East are flocking to Christ whilst those in the West are falling away. The difference of course is that so much of the West preaches a hollow worthless message, whilst followers in the East need a reason to risk, even lose their lives. To celebrate persecution however is completely counterintuitive to the Western mindset.

    • Juan Garcia

      True surrendering of lives to Christ has always grown under persecution. It does separate the wheat from the chaff. The most devout Christians I personally know live in remote Northern Haiti where their lives are unbelievably hard and at risk everyday. They are the most joyful people I’ve ever known.

    • James Blazsik

      The tribulation already happened in the 1st century. Christ will come back at the end of history.

  • KC

    We may feel uncomfortable at times here in America, but I would not call it suffering compared to other places in the world.

  • Jesus-in-the-City

    It would be great encouragement and edification for believers who struggle with this to a Bible study on the book of Acts. Even something as simple as reading this book everyday for a month can have a wonderful faith-building impact on your life and faith.

    I have no idea which group I fall into (pre-trib or post-trib), but if we do remain for the great tribulation, maybe it will be, in a sense, God’s way of separating the wheat from the chaff.

    Thanks for the reminders and encouragement, Dr. Brown.

    • m-nj

      Well, there’s a third view as well, mid-trib. We will go through some of the early scary stuff, but be spared the more-wrath of God latter stuff.

      And yes, it will surely sort out the mere-professors from the true possessors of salvation. God’s not going to loose any of His chosen ones, and He will always give grace to His people to stand up under and go through whatever comes to pass, as He always has done.

      • Juan Garcia

        This view teaches that the first 3.5 years are Satan’s wrath and the last 3.5 years are God’s wrath. God allows Christians to suffer under Satan’s wrath but they won’t experience His wrath.

      • James Blazsik

        There are also amillennial and postmillennial views

  • Paul

    I pity the ongoing commercialization of the faith. Yet another book plug I see.

    • Patmos

      You keep harping on this, and you just continue to look incredibly ignorant. Get a freakin’ life.

      • Paul

        Not sure when being aware of something became ignorance, perhaps you can explain that.

  • Charles Burge

    In a nut shell:
    Jesus told his disciples (and by extension, all of us) “Do not despair, for I have overcome the world”.
    Now, when Jesus, directly tells you NOT to do something, then it’s a sin to do it. Ergo, despair = sin.
    Now, that doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to expose evil and change hearts. We simply do those things knowing that victory is assured.

    • Juan Garcia

      I think what you are saying is that this is the only war in history that has already been won but in which the battles are still being fought. Does that thought bring a smile? (Of assurance)?

  • Ray

    When I listen to Mark Taylor, Q Anon, and others reporting on what progress is being made in America from turning away from darkness and to the light, it gets real encouraging. There are also a lot of prophetic voices on you tube that are speaking of some amazing things the Lord is doing, and a brighter future ahead, here in this world.

    • The problem with q is that his followers openly espouse freemason theology while pretending to be against freemasonry.

  • Trilemma

    Vespasian started the tribulation and his son Titus completed it in 70AD.

    • Charles Burge

      Then what would be the point of John writing about it circa 90 AD?

      • Trilemma

        Revelation was written before 70 AD at a point in time when there were seven churches in Asia.

        • Chip Crawford

          Wrong again

          • James Blazsik

            It’s true: all Scripture was written before the fall of Jerusalem. The biggest reason for a late date is a confusing comment by Irenaeus. Good conservative scholarship places the date before 70ad. One indication is that Revelation doesn’t mention the destruction of the temple in 70ad. Instead, an angel is commanded to measure it.

    • James Blazsik

      Nero started the tribulation.

      • Trilemma

        That’s true. Nero sent Vaspasian. I was thinking in terms of who was in charge of the army during the siege of Jerusalem.

        • James Blazsik

          🙂

  • tz1

    But Christians are the worst part of the problem.
    When anyone EFFECTIVELY fights back they are roundly condemned and excommunicated.
    Starting with Trump.
    They bring up his past.
    They bring up his enforcing OBAMA’s laws on things like illegal alien families.
    They even say we must be totally polite and civil when being raped by the other side.

    If we aren’t even allowed to counter with “oh, that’s so mean” tweets, how are we supposed to fight?

    Do YOU want to fight? On their turf? With their methods (which don’t directly violate any command)?

    Or do we just have to throw ourselves and our children and our eternal souls under the devils juggernaut?

    • Juan Garcia

      I think we need to trust God and obey His two greatest commandments and everything will follow from that. Try taking your thoughts to God and honestly ask Him what do I do? He will give you guidance and peace.

      • tz1

        When faced with Muslim invasion and Tyranny, it was a crusade.
        When faced with sexual perversion 10 centuries ago, St. Philip Damien wrote the book of Gomorrah which the church is NOT FOLLOWING.
        When faced with Hitler and Tojo Amercans became soldiers.

        But now when faced with even greater threats – we’ve done almost nothing about the 60 million dead babies including the 300k killed last year by Planned Parenthood – but I do remember “Christians” saying we needed a Jack Bauer (24) to go torture and slaughter muslims here and in the middle east, when none of them killed even a fraction of those killed by George Tiller, who when he was killed the Christians were all in a tizzy saying “we can’t use violence to defend the innocent”. Extra-judicial killings are ok when done on Muslims via drones from a safe bunker in Utah, but don’t even think of putting super-glue in a lock on an Abortion clinic as that would be excessively evilly violent!

        That is just Abortion. Gay marriage/rights/privileges? Economic fraud like fiat currency and the national debt? The hookup culture and the sexually transmitted disease pandemic? Are there any Christians around? I can’t seem to find very many.

        • Juan Garcia

          As a Marine I always viewed my command to love others as putting my life on the line to defend people against evil. Evil IS being committed against the most innocent among us: the murdered unborn via abortion. My wife and I run a crisis pregnancy counseling against abortion which flies in the face of state law. What is God telling you to do?

          • janesmith1950

            God bless you and your wife for stepping up and defending the innocent, Juan. xoxo

          • tz1

            I’m in transition, though Divine Providence moved me to a state with ZERO clinics. I have donated to the local Crisis Pregnancy clinic which has saved dozens if not hundreds of babies in my rural area. Perhaps it was an early Lot move to avoid the fire and brimstone that is coming. I don’t know but I do see that the sheep and goats are being separated.
            I cheer and salute you, and pray that Trump is the godsent Cyrus that will let the Christian men defend the innocent as happened on Purim as the book of Esther tells. But it is by no means certain, and even overturning Roe will at best result in a spectrum of death states and life states initially.
            LIke the earlier national sin of Slavery, it will be paid for in blood, but Bloody Kansas and Harper’s Ferry are futile approaches for the moment and they ended up being counterproductive back then.

        • Hmmm…

          Yes, the only person’s inaction you should be concerned with is your own.

          • tz1

            This is like saying the only salvation I should be concerned about is my own. No, we are to preach the Gospel to the whole world. As part of that, waking up lukewarm Laodeceans is part of the great commission – and today seems to be the great omission.

          • Hmmm…

            No, what are YOU doing other than telling others what they should be doing? Or are you yourself a lukewarm Laodecean? As Juan Garcia asked in this thread: “What is God telling you to do?”

          • tz1

            No prophet is without honor except in his own town. Read what happened to Jerimiah.
            Do you have a better suggestion? What are you doing?
            (SJWs always project)

          • Hmmm…

            You hadn’t answered that at this point. Thank you for now sharing. However, you are quick on the draw with the recrims your own self.

          • tz1

            Please state the particular point you wish me to answer. I can’t seem to find it in the hateful rhetoric.

          • Hmmm…

            You posted a drumbeat roll of all that’s dire and eminent of concern and stated you didn’t see any Christians around. Juan below took that up as well. No answer required. Relax tz1; it’s not all on you and your looking around will run to nothing since there was no “hateful rhetoric.” Dial it down tz1. Please. Like God told the prophet overwrought with the seeming odds and events of his day … there are many more he is not aware of. Peace

          • tz1

            You failed to state a question. Do you admit I was correct?

          • Hmmm…

            Is that what you were going for in the first place? Why?
            Not to mention that you allege a question so you can deny its follow through. Bogus.
            Again, relay tz1; sit back, cool drink, little relax …. Nothing rides all on you.

          • tz1

            You still fail to present me with a question or an argument. Is the part of the brain that is used to reason damaged in your case?

            I answer all honest questions, respond to all arguments.

            I see none of these in your posts.

          • Hmmm…

            Why would I ask a question of someone whose analysis I have already noted makes a negative impression on me. The ad hominem tracks with my previous commentary to you along with a pointer or two. You choose to ignore what is in my posts. More on point would be response to that. No, I have no question for you then or now. Let’s get into a good Sabbath rest of the New Covenant variety — on the inside. Peace and best to you. If you feel the need to retaliate with more gotcha or school yard twit, we’ll just be disappointed. Some just must have the last word.

          • tz1

            You would ask me a question because you would value reason over FEELZ. If I have a condemnation, it is that you don’t use reason and evidence, but depend on how you feel. That is why you don’t bother asking a question, because I might answer and make you more uncomfortable because my reasoning and evidence are sound.

    • You I like. Just remember that it doesn’t take many soldiers to fight against evil.

      Think of the Paladin Roland holding off the entire islamic army by himself in “The Song of Roland.”

      • tz1

        Or Gideon’s 300. Or Moses at the Red Sea. Or even our American Revolution. Or Elijah against the 500 prophets of Baal.

        It takes one soldier with God, and if it takes more God will provide.

    • Hmmm…

      We fight what is behind what’s going on – the root rather than the fruit.
      The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Eph.

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