Do you see and feel increased animosity and even anger being expressed towards many of your Christian views in entertainment and in the politically correct world in which we live today? Do you sometimes feel intimidated and unwelcomed to express your Biblical belief about certain topics at work or among certain social gatherings? Knowing how they are in stark contrast to the accepted norm of society? Is there a very real and growing push by society for the church to change their stance on many current issues today? Are many of our very own churches caving to the desires of the masses in their beliefs and condemning us for not following suite? Have we crossed a new threshold of literal, physical, hate-filled aggression and intimidation towards unwanted beliefs and opinions in our country? Have you seen legal action taken against people as a direct result of their choice to live by their Biblical beliefs in our culture? Is there a very real trend to distinctly single out of Christian beliefs (over other religions) in our culture as the target for much condemnation and attack? With the current Representatives and Judges we have in place at this very moment, do you feel it is very possible for more restrictive laws to appear in our society towards our beliefs and convictions in the near future? Many Christians are wondering and asking whether we will experience serious discrimination and even outright persecution in our lives. I want to take a moment to give you a solid, evidence-based answer to set your minds at ease once and for all—absolutely, yes! Think that answer is biased? Paranoid? Opinionated? Let's take a few moments to get beyond our personal comforts, opinions and hopes—to see the big picture—from the standpoint of history, current blatant evidence, and Scripture.
Those of you who are serious history buffs will quickly recognize and understand the following information. When the First Century Christians began to be severely persecuted—it didn’t begin on a governmental level—it began at the social and even religious level. The religious Jews were the first to bring accusations against Christians; the first to condemn and even kill Christians for their beliefs. And then, the Roman society began to hate and accuse Christians of crimes against humanity.
Listen to a section of the writings by Cornelius Tacitus, a senator and historian of the Roman Empire. There are many, but here is one more: a Roman lawyer and theologian, Tertullian, writing as a convert from paganism to Christianity to a hostile audience, in defense of the persecuted Christians of his time. The Christians of the early church were persecuted by officials—even though they were loving, obedient and lawful—because they were first hated and despised by the public; because of the lies told about them, the false accusations, the belief they were haters of mankind. And when the Jews were severely persecuted—labeled for extinction—in the seemingly normal, advanced, caring German Society of WWII, did Germany just rise up one day and decide to kill all of the Jews in society? No, it began as a propaganda movement of the media [Did you get that?] Blaming them for Germany's failures; accusing them of being sinister enemies of "ordinary people" in Germany; accusing them of being dangerous and undeserving; painting them as arrogant, self-serving, evil people. This was fed to the culture through every media available in their time (films, posters, articles, books, school teachings, even children's books, etc.) until the dislike for Jews was so commonplace and acceptable in their social setting that official persecution was not only overlooked, tut accepted; welcomed. Here is a quote from Hitler himself, about the use of social propaganda [or media influence] to prepare a culture for change (1889-1945). Throughout persecution has sprouted in cultures at a social level, moving into political acceptance [Political Correctness], and finally moving into the legal system—with the support of the changing views of society.
With this information in mind, let's now shift our attention to the present and take an eye-opening look at the current, blatant condition of Christianity in our world. Listen to this report from BBC News, which came out just this past year.
Christians were the most persecuted religious group, it found. Hunt said he felt that 'political correctness' had played a part in the issue not being confronted. It warned the religion 'is at risk of disappearing' in some parts of the world. And just to give assurance this is not a religious statement or an isolated view, see this completely secular report from Forbes Magazine.
Persecution of Christians is growing dramatically (unexplainably by many), on a global scale, until it has been surmised by many today that Christians are now the single-most persecuted group of people worldwide. We have simply been in a small minority of people who have been relatively untouched by this changing worldview, until recent years, as we have seen a rapid and powerful change in society—an obvious shift in our nation's attitude, and even our laws—bringing societal changes quickly before our eyes. It has become socially unacceptable to speak about some of the beliefs we hold as Christians—even when in complete love and care—fearing workplace retaliation, even job loss; fearing social rejection and isolation; even fearing legal action in some cases. Our entertainment mocks our beliefs; our schools ridicule believers and work to irradiate creationism. There is a push to remove any moral restraints to sear our conscience from reacting to anything immoral; a push to destroy the God-given building block of the family. There are new laws in a number of states already in effect, which have the potential to seriously, legally challenge the beliefs, hiring, building usage, and teachings of churches (ex. Virginia Values Act, July 1, 2020). And on the Federal Level, things such as The Equality Act, which has passed the U.S. House of Rep. and is currently under consideration in the Senate, have the potential, on a Federal level to bring similar legal ramifications to Christians and churches, changing the legal and cultural atmosphere of Christians severely. The attitude we have begun to see in a number of people culturally can be seen in these words by Harvard Law Professor, Mark Tushnet, when commenting about the Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage.
Using nothing but current, blatant evidence around us from a secular stance, we are forced to recognize this global shift against Christians and we are forced to recognize this shift in our own culture. From a Spiritual stance, we know and understand the powers behind the "phenomenon", which is unexplainable by the world. Honest assessment of the evidence gives a clear, unmistakable pattern of media, entertainment, and educational influence, shifting our cultural views right before our eyes until "Political Correctness" is openly against many of our beliefs and teachings; and it is acceptable—even expected—to disagree with our beliefs. It is becoming more and more common to label us as haters, bigots, and detriments to the moral growth of our country; and now the beginnings of legal changes to mirror those changing views. Do you recognize this pattern from history in our study thus far?
Lastly, even if you choose to overlook all that has been said—as a Christian—there is one more piece of evidence you must consider: 2 Timothy 3:12; John 15:18-20. Jesus, Paul, and the other NT writers make it clear that to truly serve Christ unashamed, passionately—every believer will suffer persecution of some kind. And that, as we draw closer to the end, that persecution will increase exponentially. The world is literally fulfilling that prophecy. We are living in new and challenging times, and the writing is on the wall: persecution in this country will do nothing but increase from this point forward. We are all so tense in anticipation of this coming election—and understandably so, it is one of the most emotionally charged ideologically divided Elections of all times in this Country—but we all need to remember—the leader we end up with, after all of the strife—and there may well be some strife—will be the leader that God has appointed for this time and place in our history. He has not lost control; and for whatever reasons He so chooses, He will appoint the leader necessary for His will: Romans 13:1; Daniel 2:20-21; Daniel 4:17; John 19:10-11. Whichever direction this election takes, the moral changes we have embraced as a people—the rejection of Jesus Christ as a Nation—assures us of the growing aggression against Christians. Have you ever honestly looked at a brother or sister who is really being blessed by God and secretly asked, "Why am I not blessed like that? They don't deserve it anymore than I do. They haven't done anything I haven't done!" Well, let's ask that question in a true "Scriptural Light" again. Take a look around at the rest of the world and ask, "Why am I not suffering persecution like that? They don't deserve it anymore than I do. They haven't done anything I haven't done!" We may not have to ask that question much longer. We all have serious and fair questions about persecution. Why does God even allow persecution of those He loves so much? Why does He actually even go so far as to say persecution is a blessing to those who have to endure it? How would I do if I were placed into a time of persecution? Would I handle it like those I read about? Or falter? How should I prepare and respond for this persecution?
There truly are good, sound answers to these questions in Scriptures—which we will explore next week. Some, maybe some here—surely some in the sound of my voice today—will not have to worry one bit about the coming of persecution in this Country, because persecution for Jesus Christ is something that actually has to be earned. Some have no desire to attending church; no desire to live for God. You are not talking about Christ; you are not standing for anything, or against anything, on His behalf. You have not one ounce of driving love for anyone lost and different, or even a brother or sister beside you. You pretty much just look and act like the world. So, the few things you actually really do for Jesus will be easy to let go of as well. If things get tough—don’t worry, you'll be just fine—for now: Mark 4:16-17. Somehow, most of us in this culture have made the life of a Christian out to be a code of moral standards and a self-help Book to constantly focus on, and improve ourselves. So many today are contented with simply studying It, dissecting It, arguing over It, judging others by It, but never actually living it sacrificially for Christ. Luke 14:27-30, 33. The question is not will persecution increase; the question is not when will it come; the only question we need to truly ask ourselves is the way I live today: "Will I even be counted worthy to be persecuted?!"
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