January 10th 2014 No comments yet
We live in a world that is wholly and totally against us as a Church and body of Christ. To think otherwise is foolish. We are not used to doses of this reality in the States and to an even lesser degree here in the South. If you grew up in a small church-and-football Texas town like I did, the concept of religious persecution is almost foreign. However, more and more we are running into the hard reality that we are becoming less and less welcome in the social landscape of modern America.
A few weeks ago, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson made some very incendiary comments about sin in an interview with GQ. I’m not interested in arguing if he put that out in the right venue, or if he could’ve been a little more tactful about it. I’m not interested in the political and civil liberties muck that inevitably follows discussions about his suspension from the show.
No, what I’m interested in is letting you know that soon you will be facing very real, very uncomfortable, and possibly very painful persecution for professing to be a follower of God (or, just as likely, you already have).
Phil Robertson, while the most high profile, is by far one of the least unreasonable circumstances that resulted in persecution. In our very church, I heard a story about an elementary-age girl who was given detention for telling a friend about Jesus. In third or fourth grade I didn’t know detention existed, and this girl was punished for telling a classmate Jesus loves her.
It’s easy to get angry. It’s easy to bemoan the unfairness of it all. It’s human to want to push back and get justice for the apparent injustices of a new cultural norm. I’ll be the first to admit to it.
But we’re called to be more than human. Much more. We’re called to be like God in the face of persecution.
In case you’re not quite sure what that means, Jesus gave us a very clear standard to strive for at the Sermon on the Mount. Pay special attention to the last command in Matthew 5:43-48.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Be perfect. Not fight back against the injustice you suffer or do your best to love someone who has got it out for you. Be perfect and love all people, even your enemies.
Is it possible? No. We’re not capable of perfection. But the call to perfection, like anything in the Christian life, is not about the end result of being blameless at the end. I read somewhere today that if you shoot for the moon and fail, you at least land on the roof, and I think that’s on track for what we need to do.
Strive for perfection and love those who seek your destruction, your discredit, and your dignity. You will fail. You will lash out. You will get angry. But always strive to respond to those who hate you with love. God is with you every step of the way, and when you fight back with love, He will make sure it’s never in vain.
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