An interesting article by Ruth Gledhill of the Times (called “It Can Only Harm Christians To Bleat About Persecution”) set my thinking juices flowing!
On the basic premise of her article I agree with her. Christians – complaining about persecution – what HAS the world (or Christianity) come to.
Francis Beckwith’s book “Politics For Christians” makes a vital point to this. For much of the Church’s life, there has never been any available recourse to persecution – the Church / Christians were persecuted and the church / Christians took it, prayed through it and endured it in the grace of the Holy Spirit. But with the formation of liberal democracy, where Christians have been able to participate in the election of officals and be active in the legislative process and even have some clout in government circles, the Church has come to ‘complain’ about persecution. Of course, there are believers around the world today who are being persecuted for Christ, and dying for the gospel, because of hostile governments.
Can any Christian read Matthew 24 and then be surprised that they are being persecuted? The Scriptures explicitly tells us that the church and believers will be persecuted and killed.
Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. 6 You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these events are the beginning of birth pains.
Matt. 24:9 “Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. 14 This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.”
The world is not on a trajectory to get better, nicer, more compliant with the rights of others. It is getting worse. The world is deteriorating because that is what unchecked, un-forgiven sin does. That is what happens when a society, a nation, a world ignore God and worships other gods.
A woman sacked from an Airline for insisting that she should wear a cross around her neck? If that was all the issue was (and by that I mean that she had not done something else to exasperate the issue), then this woman should rejoice that she has been worthy to be persecuted for Jesus Christ. That is what scripture says we should do. Lose a job, lose a family, lose your security, lose your reputation, lose your status, lose your dignity, whatever it is, if you have lost anything because of your faith in Christ and the gospel then rejoice that you are worthy. Is it easy? Of course not? Will it cause hardship? Of course it will. But that is not the point. The gospel, the purposes of God, the Kingdom of God all come before our ‘comfort’ – for we have been given immense promises from God that all who follow him, even through persecution, will have life and have it abundantly!! Our futures are secured – our destiny assured – what happens here on earth is for God’s glory not our comfort.
Some of Gledhill’s comments are very naive and ignorant of Christianity. Her ignorance is evident when she writes Christianity has always been big on victimhood and victims have to find a persecutor. This is not true and any reading of Christian History will show that this has not always been the case. Also, has she heard of the christians killed around the world today for their faith? Were they looking for a persecutor? Her naivety is seen when, commenting on calls by Christians in the UK for Court Judges to stand down from cases of religious discrimination if they have previously been hostile to Christianity she writes Many leading judges are religious; many are not. But they are all fiercely independent and impartial. They are trained to set aside any personal prejudice. To suggest that they are anti-Christian is not only insulting but fails to understand the oath they swear by Almighty God, to “do right by all manner of people, after the law and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will”.
Now, while I think the call for judges to stand down from cases of religious discrimination because of their perceived bias is not practical or possible, Gledhill’s defense of the judge’s motives is naïve. To say a judge is NEVER swayed by their personal beliefs or prejudices – even on a subconscious level – is ridiculous. From a Christian view point, it discounts sin. Judges are sinful men trying to do their job. Their motives are never 100% pure.
Finally, Gledhill’s final paragraph is just plain weird. I have no idea what she means by it. She says
Let’s hope the Church of England really is like a swimming pool where all the noise is at the shallow end. Increasing numbers don’t need the props of religion to keep them afloat and with leaders such as these representing my faith, I’m starting to wonder if it might not be time to ditch the armbands and head for the deeper, more interesting waters of doubt.
I do hope, and pray, that one day very soon, Ruth Gledhill will meet with the real Lord Jesus Christ, the resurrected living Lord, who died for the sins of the world.