Prepare for Persecution
Persecution is coming. Let’s get ready.
While searching for news one morning, I kept seeing a negative attitude towards religious liberty. I believe God was showing me something.
I saw a resentment towards religion that doesn’t “progress” with society. Many seem to see religious liberty as code for suppressing the progression of “gay rights.” And certain religious beliefs as problematic — needing to be replaced.
One tweet, rife with expletives, said that “gay rights” protect what people can’t change about themselves. Why should religion, which people choose, trump the expression of something intrinsic? Why should “gay rights” bow down to religious liberty? People are free to change their religion, but not their orientation.
The Growing Sentiment
The sentiment that you can change your religious beliefs struck me. What will happen when sympathy for religious liberty runs out? The next article I came across helps answer that question.
A telling letter in the South China Morning Post has this headline: “In times of violence in the name of religion, the world needs to create a new god.” A key section reads, “It seems to me that the problem started with the concept that God created man in his own image. Wrong. It is high time that the God created by man should be re-evaluated. In brief, man should create a new god.”
The author calls for a new, inclusive world religion “if the world is to survive and prosper.” “Imagine then a world with no heaven, above us only sky, and one with no religion too — or at least one much modified by the newly created God.”
So religious beliefs are just a choice, not necessarily worth protecting? And we need a new and better man-made god?
I can hear the nations raging, as Psalm 2 says: “Let’s get free of God! Cast loose from Messiah!”
Not Greater Than Our Master
I used to think that I probably didn’t have to worry about the nations turning against Jesus and persecuting His Church. After all, God would rapture me away before things get really bad, right? But I’ve realized that I was mistaken. We do not have the assurance that we will escape persecution. Rather, that God will be with us.
Jesus told his disciples to expect persecution. The prophets were persecuted to death. Jesus was persecuted to death. We are not greater than our Master.
Our brothers and sisters face death in Nigeria and chains in China. And we can already see the beginning of the end of religious liberty in Western nations. In England and Canada, Christians face jail time and fines for speaking truth to people who identify as homosexual or transgender.
The Church in the U.S. faces social pressure to conform or be silent. What do we do? We can, and should, fight openly against the anti-God sentiment in our nation. We should hold back the tide as long as we can.
And we should prepare ourselves for persecution. God will give us strength.
Repenting of Laziness, Letting God Have His Way in Us
To prepare, we must first repent of our laziness.
I think of the parable of the sower. The seed that sprouted only shallow roots withered in the sun of persecution. I fear that I have let my roots stay shallow.
God has been gently showing me my hypocrisy. I say He is the leader of my life, but how often do I give Him room to lead me? How often do I sit at His feet, like Mary of Bethany, and soak up His words? Do I obey His commandments and love others as He has loved me? I know He wants to teach me.
I’ll need Him to teach me how to love Him if I’m going to be ready for what’s to come.
This is my prayer: Jesus, I want to love you. I want my love to endure. At the end of my life I still want to be on fire for you, Jesus. I’m sorry for being lazy in my relationship with you. I commit to growing a deeper connection with You. Prune off everything that is not essential, till all I see is you. Help me to throw off the things that don’t lead me to You or help me to obey You.
Help me to love you and obey your commandments. Help me to be a faithful witness of Your truth, like Jesus was. Let me be like one of the wise virgins who did not let her oil run out before the bridegroom came. Make my love for you strong enough to last until the day when You return.
Let our roots go down deep in Jesus. Let the branches of the true vine flourish with His life and bear fruit.
The Holy Spirit’s job is to help us love God and be like Jesus. Are we letting Him have His way in us? When persecution comes, it will be hard to quickly grow roots to avoid withering away. Let’s prepare ourselves now.