A Little Persecution, Please?

The original post can be found here.

christian-persecutionBy now, much ink has been spelt on the veto of the “Religious Freedom” bill by the governor of Arizona.  Pundits have gone back and forth on the merits and legitimacy of the bill, and, not surprisingly, the pro-homosexual lobby has worked hard to present it as a new form of Jim Crow.From a Christian perspective, of course, this is unfortunate news.  Regardless of the merits of the Religious Freedom bill–the contents of which have been grossly distorted by the media–the fact remains that Christians are being coerced by their own government to violate their religious freedoms. Consider just the one example of the Lexington Kentucky T-shirt company that refused to print shirts for the annual gay pride parade.  Incredibly, their actions were condemned by the Human Rights Commission as “human rights violation.”

The key fact in this case (and the many others like it) has been largely overlooked: the customer was not denied service by the T-shirt company because he was homosexual, but rather because the company deemed the nature of this particular job to be a tacit affirmation of homosexuality.  There is a big difference.  If the homosexual customer had asked the T-shirt company to print jerseys for the local baseball team then service would not have been denied.

The pure irrationality of the legal action against this T-shirt company is evident when counterexamples are produced which no sane person would condone. Should a Jewish owner of a T-shirt company be compelled to print shirts with swastikas for the Aryan brotherhood?  Should a Muslim owner of a T-shirt company be compelled to print shirts for Budweiser despite being opposed to alcohol?

These counter examples reveal the intellectual and logical bankruptcy of the aggressive homosexual lobby.  It shows that their agenda is not about just having the freedom to  live in peace. It is not just about the freedom to exist.  It is about forcing everyone else to approve.  It is about easing their conscience.

Unfortunately this type of governmental coercion is out of sync with a democratic society that at least purports to value freedom of religion.

These counter examples also reveal how unlikely it is that similar levels of persecution will be experienced by Jews and Muslims.  In fact, there is currently a case in Toronto were a lesbian woman is accusing a Muslim barbershop of discrimination because they refused to cut her hair.  Not sure how that case is going to turn out, but I’m putting my money on the Muslim.

In the end, it is mainly evangelical Christians who are the recipients of this sort of persecution. This selective targeting raises an important question that perhaps too few people are asking: Why?  Why are Christians being singled out?

It would be too easy for Christians to see this as bad news, but I think there are reasons to see it as good news. In a paradoxical fashion, the irrational and disproportionate targeting of Christians is actually validating for the Christian worldview.

Indeed, this sort of persecution is precisely what Paul said we should expect, “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Cor 2:15-16).

Thus, it is not coincidental that Christianity is receiving the brunt of the persecution. When people suppress the image of God that remains inside of them, they look for ways to suppress the image of that God any place they can find it.

And apparently they find it in Christianity.

christian-american PersecutionFor my part, I think a little persecution isn’t a bad thing.  As I was pulling into Church yesterday, I expressed to my wife that I’m not sure you can call a Church a “Church” if there is no active discipline of members who live in an open, continuous state of sin.  Many congregations that gather together on a Sunday are very similar to the world because they have been infiltrated by worldly false converts.  The coming persecution will either cause them to get out of The Church, or God will use it in a manner where their eyes are opened to the truth, by His sovereign grace and purpose, and they will experience regeneration.

Daily Roundup

Iran Launching Massive Arrests of Evangelicals – Sometimes it costs quite a bit to be a Christian.  That is something we know little about here in the Western world.

God is Not Working For Our Comfort – His purpose is higher and greater.

Jesus Gives Us Reason to Obey – Why should we love our enemies?

Luther and the Psalms – In the midst of many personal conflicts, Luther found himself contemplating the promises of Psalm 46, an encouraging psalm of trust in the invincibility of the Lord.

No Hope Outside of Christ – An excerpt from Paul David Tripps book Instruments in the Redeemers Hand.

Quote:

They encircled us in a deadly ring, and one kept urging another to strike the first blow or fire the first shot. My heart rose up to the Lord Jesus; I saw Him watching all the scene. My peace came back to me like a wave from God. I realized that I was immortal till my Master’s work with me was done. The assurance came to me, as if a voice out of Heaven had spoken, that not a musket would be fired to wound us, not a club prevail to strike us, not a spear leave the hand in which it was held vibrating to be thrown, not an arrow leave the bow, or a killing stone the fingers, without the permission of Jesus Christ, whose is all power in Heaven and on Earth. He rules all Nature, animate and inanimate, and restrains even the Savage of the South Seas. In that awful hour I saw His own words, as if carved in letters of fire upon the clouds of Heaven: “Seek, and ye shall find. Whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” I could understand how Stephen and John saw the glorified Savior as they gazed up through suffering and persecution to the Heavenly Throne! – John G. Paton

Daily Roundup

Making Money is Good – Christians who believe in the rightness of the free market nonetheless must also be known for their application of the doctrine of the image of God to labor and capitalism.

6000 “Saved” at Conference – J D Hall takes a look at a recent conference where there was supposedly 6000 saved.  Considering the lineup of conference speakers and the message “preached”, I think the number truly saved was quite a bit lower than that.

Scarborough Baptist Church Media Release – It’s happening in Australia, it’s happening in Arizona, it is a sign of the times.

Meat and Potato Christianity – Fill up!

Future Grace – This is a series of 6 conference messages from 1998 that lead to a wonderful book by John Piper that has impacted my life.  Scroll down the page for the links to the rest of the series.

More than a Quote:

I had a favorite teacher years ago when I earned a Masters in the Art of Teaching Mathematics.  After going through sleep-inducing classes espousing the latest educational theory and so forth, it seemed none of my professors had really taught math.  But my last class was taught by a man who had been a high school math teacher for three decades.  He knew how to keep our attention! I still remember his loud vocal enthusiasm as he said things like “You gotta drill them, then drill them some more!  Drill! Drill! Drill!” or “Quit treating with sympathy those kids who whine like pansies.  Tell them to get a life and get to work!”  Like a football coach, he pounded his fist into his palm as he told us we would have to work on students’ hearts as much as their minds.  How right he was!  Rarely your parents or you, when you struggle with math or other hard subjects, identify that the true problem is one of the heart.

Do you know where we get our word “Math” from?  (Note: I then wrote the following Greek word on the chalkboard along with its transliteration.  All our other rooms have white boards, but this one has an old-fashioned chalk board.  I love the dirty, dusty feeling of chalk between the fingers.  But I digress).

This word is pronounced “mathetes” (Hear “math” in that?).  This is the word for “disciple.”  Just as in the Scriptures a disciple was one who followed and patterned himself after his teacher, be it a disciple of John, Jesus, or a rabbi, so a student in mathematics must see himself or herself as one who follows the model and pattern the teacher is setting before him or her.   Did you ever think of yourself as a  disciple of Mrs. McKissick. (Laughter)  Yet your success or lack of it depends in part on seeing it that way.

I know your abilities well enough.  There is not a one of you in here that has some mental problem that makes math too difficult for you.  But we all have a heart problem that does.  Often math students do not want to do the hard work necessary to succeed, because the math takes discipline.  I see this all the time.  Students put off the harder subjects to do easier things, be it simple assignments so they can tell their parents “I got most of my homework done” or just giving into fleshly pleasures.   You see, it is not the math but the discipline it requires that you do not like.

I have math students say all the time, “What does this math problem have to do with the real world?” I tell them “Everything.”  Oh, the particular lesson on graphing an equation or simplifying an expression may not have a direct correspondence (oops, sorry about the math terminology) to things you are doing today or will do in the future, be it mowing the lawn, playing a sport, or what you do when you grow up.  But you are learning discipline, logical ways of thinking, details about how things relate in God’s world and so forth that will be indispensable to you when you get older. Don’t think that you will one day wake up and be responsible and knowledgeable enough to be a good worker or employer.  It takes steps to get there.  Your next math lesson is one of them.

So how about this?  Next time instead of saying “I hate math” which will get you nowhere, instead say “I hate discipline.”  You will be more honest with yourself.  And then you will also start realizing how foolish that sounds, for the godly are to love discipline in whatever form God may choose to bring it.  As Proverbs 23:12 says, “Apply your heart to discipline, and your ears to words of knowledge.”

 – Barry York, Gentle Reformation Blog; original found here.