Thursday, May 28, 2009

Persecution in America--We Should All Live as to be Counted Worthy

Today on facebook, two friends posted a news clip about a couple in San Diego who were questioned about the ligitimacy of a home Bible study, and instructed to go apply for a costly permit. I am busy today so I will not take long to post this, but I have to express my thoughts; they burst within me. I am struck by the indignation that seems to the usual response from Americans who are attacked for their faith--have they not read 1 Peter 4:12-13? It says, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. I hope that I live in such a way that people who reject Christ will know that I believe, and that they will view me as they view Christ...that they come to view Christ more accurately and favorably, but if not, that I would encounter the privilege of being likewise rejected for His sake, for my identity in Him--and that I not react in indignation but glad to know that I share in His sufferings.
The founding fathers no doubt meant well when they gave us our first amendment rights for freedom of expression. For the most part, I'm thankful for those rights; I don't know what it is to live without their protection. But perhaps those men did us a disservice, in that we American Christians stay immature, thinking more that we are entitled to freedom of expression than that we should count it all joy when we find that freedom squelched.
It seems that our citizenship is in America, not in Heaven. Our heavenly citizenship means that we are just sojourners here, it is not our home, we are aliens to those around us. If we feel comfortable here, at ease, not challenged, then we have to question whether we are living for Christ, whether we are strong enough to endure when real persecution should arise.
Bible verses such as 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5 and Philippians 1:27-28 regarding persecution would indicate that persecutors are gathering judgment upon themselves, so we can know that when we are mistreated it isn't being ignored. When the expression of our faith brings on persecution, knowing that we have lived in such a way as to we should count it all joy as in Matthew 5:11-12, because we are counted worthy to be considered such. We have joined in the persecutions that our Lord Jesus suffered as in Hebrews 12:2, enduring the cross, despising its shame...for us. That is a believer's privilege!
And so I resolve today to live, with God's help, as one who is primarily heaven-bound, forsaking my American rights if necessary for obedience to Christ, not bound to an American citizenship and its rights, as much as looking forward to seeing Jesus face to face. Hallelujah! Amen!

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