Persecution and Prayer

by Jonathan Master

Christians have always been persecuted.  Peter reminded his readers of this in the earliest days of the church: “…knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by the brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9b).  But it does seem as if the suffering of Christians – whether at the hands of Muslims, Hindus, or totalitarians of another stripe – has been in the news more lately.  The testimonies of our brothers and sisters in these places are sobering; but often they are also encouraging examples of grace-fueled perseverance.

I sometimes wonder how I would feel or pray if I was faced with serious persecution.  Would I be self-pitying?  Vengeful?  What are the key theological truths which need to be grasped most tightly during these times?

In Acts 4, we read about a prayer meeting which follows right on the heels of intense persecution.  Peter and John had just been released by the temple officials, but they had been ordered not to speak about Jesus any more.  The threat of suffering and death was real, and they had just experienced a foretaste of it.  So what did they pray upon their release?  What would you pray?

There are four main truths they meditated on in their prayer – four key teachings about God which they held tightly.

The first is that God is the sovereign creator: “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea and everything in them” (Acts 4:24).  The truth of God as creator is revealed to us in the very first chapter of the Bible.  It is foundational to everything that follows.  God’s authority and his work as creator insured that he was over and above anything else that might come against them.  What a comfort in times of persecution!

The second main truth is that God had promised judgment for those who opposed him.  This is found in verses 25-26, and is mainly encapsulated in a quotation from Psalm 2.  Psalm 2 begins with a rhetorical question about human rulers: Why do they oppose God, since it is ultimately in vain?  God’s response to their opposition is laughter and anger and he promises swift judgment upon them.  In our day, we shy away from affirming the judgment of God, but when facing God’s enemies, God’s righteous judgment is not an embarrassment, but a great comfort.  God will make all things right; he will judge those who oppose him.  Their ultimate end is in his hands.

Thirdly, these early persecuted Christians focused on the fact that God predestines.  Specifically, they affirm his predestination in the death of Jesus Christ.  Although those who killed Jesus are held responsible for their sin, yet nonetheless God had predestined for it to occur.  If that was true of the most wicked injustice in all of history, how much more was it true of whatever unfair persecution they or we might undergo?  Once again, we shy away from this doctrine of predestination and of God’s perfect plan.  But when we are faced with persecution, it becomes a sweet and significant truth.

Finally, these Christians knew that not only had God worked in creation, not only had he promised judgment, not only had he predestined that which takes place, but, in addition to all these things, he was at work even in their own day.  We know this because in verse 30 the Christians pray for God’s continued work: “…while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  God had not left these disciples on their own.  He was not sitting distantly aside, merely watching what transpired in their persecution.  No.  He was still at work through his church.  This persecution, painful as it was, did nothing to thwart God’s work at all.

In the midst of all this, the earliest Christians prayed for boldness (29), and we should pray for this today as well.  We need to be bold and clear in our presentation of the gospel.  But as we pray for boldness, let us remember these four doctrines which meant so much to them.  They are truths much maligned today, but they are vital to our lives as pilgrims here on earth; and to those of the brotherhood around the world who are suffering even now, they are simply indispensable.

____________________

Jonathan Master (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of theology and dean of the School of Divinity at Cairn University. He is also director of Cairn’s Center for University Studies. Dr. Master serves as executive editor of Place for Truth and is co-chair of the Princeton Regional Conference on Reformed Theology.

Meriam: “I am a Christian, and a Christian I shall remain”

Meriam: “I am a Christian, and a Christian I shall remain”

Posted by Jesse Johnson at The Cripplegate

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim is married, 27-years-old, mother to a 20-month old son, 8-months pregnant, and last week was sentenced to death for being a Christian. 

Her story is not all that uncommon. Her father was Muslim, and her mother was an ethnic Christian. As is common in much of the world—including the United States—Muslim men frequently marry non-Muslim women, because by Islamic tradition their children are considered Muslim. It frankly doesn’t matter what the children of that religious mish-mash marriage actually believe about God or faith; because the father was Muslim, so are the children. Period. These kind of marriage don’t often last—but that is not their point. Their point is simply to expand Islam through the children.

Such was the case for Meriam. Her parents had two children, herself and a brother. Her father then left her mother to raise both of them. Her mother came to faith in Christ, and raised her children in the church. Meriam’s grew up, and (as Christians are prone to do) married a believer, and had a son.

Her brother meanwhile had left Christianity and returned to the religion of his father. He reported Meriam to the police, who arrested her, tried her in an Islamic court, and convicted her of blasphemy and adultery. More on the adultery later.

Her country, Sudan, is one of many in the world that claim to have religious freedom, yet also make it a capital crime for someone to leave the Muslim faith. They say to the world, “We have religious freedom!” but what they mean by that is “you are free to worship in any religion you want, as long as Muslims don’t leave the Islamic religion.” Thus they can look the human right’s groups in the eye and declare their love for personal freedom, as long as the Western world respects their right for Islamic tradition. Which, by the way, includes the death sentence for any Muslims that convert to Christianity.

This is the mess that Meriam found herself in when her brother reported her. In the eyes of Islam she is a Muslim—never mind the fact that she doesn’t practice, believe, or follow Islam in anyway—thus it is a crime for her to claim Christ. The exact crime is “Apostasy,” punishable by death. Islam demonstrates its mercy toward women by declaring that a pregnant women sentenced to death for such a thing shall be spared until their child is weaned. Assuming her new baby survives child birth—hardly a sure thing, because the government says “for security reasons” she must give birth in prison—she likely has another year or two to live.

Under Islamic law not only is it a crime to leave the Muslim religion, but it is also illegal for a Muslim women to marry a non-Muslim man (obviously the reverse is not true, or Meriam wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with). Since in the eyes of Islamic law she is Muslim, her marriage to her husband was declared void by the courts. Since she is pregnant, she is thereby guilty of adultery. For that she gets 100 lashes, and it is unlikely they will wait for the baby to be weaned before they carry out that part of the sentence.

Meriam is not alone. In Sudan, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, and other Islamic countries Christians are routinely arrested, beaten, and even martyred for no other reason than for embracing Jesus and rejecting the message of Mohammad. Yet these stories are hardly ever news. What makes Meriam different?

Simple: CNN picked up her story and ran with it. I have no idea why, but they did. Maybe it is because she is in jail with her 20-month old son, who is sick and denied medical care (again, for security reasons). Perhaps it is because her husband, Daniel, is in a wheel chair. He says he is totally dependent upon his wife to care for him, and doesn’t know what will happen to him now that she is gone. Maybe it is because of its proximity to the story of the kidnapped Nigerian school girls.

Why CNN chose this story to focus on we may never know. But the result of the press coverage has been a public relations row for Sudan. Other countries have pressured Sudan to find a diplomatic way to end Meriam’s imprisonment and spare her life.

Perhaps because of this push back, her trial court granted her what they described as a “merciful” option. They gave her 3 days to recant her faith in Christ. If she would just tell the court that this whole thing was a big misunderstanding, she and her son could go free. And this is plausible enough, isn’t it? She doesn’t really remember her father; how was she to know that she was a Muslim? Now that she does, she can simply apologize to the court, ask to delay the beatings until after she delivers her baby, and go home.

CNN reports that after three days, the judge brought her back to the court. In Diet-of-Worms style, a Sheik appealed to the judge to recognize, “how dangerous a crime like this is to Islam and the Islamic community.”

When it was her turn to speak, Meriam simply said, “I am a Christian, and I will remain a Christian.”

I have no idea what kind of church she goes to. In Sudan there are Baptists, Anglicans, Pentecostals, and Orthodox believers. Whatever kind of Christian she is, she is also obviously the kind that would rather die than renounce her faith.

It is noteworthy that the Koran expressly allows people to artificially deny the Muslim faith for a brief period of time; if a Muslim was on trial and his only way to escape was to lie about his faith, Surat An-Nahl 16:106 would allow him to deny Islam for the day, to get his freedom and save his life.

16:106

The obvious question: what kind of religion values faith at gun-point? What kind of religion tells someone “if you leave, we will kill you and possibly your children?” Sudan’s government says that the rest of the world doesn’t understand, and that blasphemy laws are at the heart of what it means to be a Muslim nation. They may be right; after all perhaps a dozen other Islamic countries have the same law. It is hardly unique to Islam though—remember that it was the Jewish court system that sentenced Jesus to die. Like Meriam, his crime was “blasphemy.”

Who knows how Meriam’s case will end? Its possible that international pressure will prevail, and that they will release her, and perhaps only expel her from the country. Its possible that the press will forget about this case, and two years from now she will be executed, as so many other Christians are: forgotten and anonymous.

Pray for Meriam and Daniel this week. Consider it a joy to intercede for someone who values faithfulness to Jesus above the limited freedoms this world has to offer.

Why Do The Heathen Rage?

That’s the question asked by the first verse of Psalm 2. The entire verse reads:

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” (KJV)

Other Bible translations read something more akin to:

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?”

Either way, it’s the same question; a question that can be asked about nations as well as individuals.

The short answer is not a complex one. The ‘heathen’ rage because they are heathens. Those who profess no belief in the God who created them ‘rage’ because it is the natural thing to do. Furthermore, all of us who profess belief in God and His Son as having died for our sins were once heathens, and by nature the objects of God’s just wrath (Eph 2:1-3).

So what is it about man’s ‘heathenness’ that makes him rage? I’m glad you asked! Hold on to your seat belt. You see, the Bible tells us certain things about everyone that has ever been born since Adam fell. I will share just a short passage from the book of Romans:

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:6-8, ESV)

All of us were born with the same kind of mind – a carnal mind set on the flesh. None of us has a mind set on the Spirit until such time as we are ‘born again’, as Jesus so eloquently told Nicodemus in John 3. And as our Romans passage tells us, the ‘carnal’ mind is hostile to God. That hostility is expressed in our raging against God. Some of us rage privately in the recesses of our hearts and minds while some of us rage a lot – in public. Nevertheless, until God sovereignly saves us and delivers us from the bondage of our carnal minds, at some level we rage because it is our nature to do so.

Sadly, some us who proclaim Christ as Lord and Savior seem to have forgotten why it is that the heathen rage and that their rage is really against God. How do I know that? Thanks for asking. . .again.

Well, I’ll give you a two word answer and then then explain it, since you might think that I must be a little bit nuts. So here’s my two word answer: Duck Dynasty! That’s right, I said Duck Dynasty! Hear me out, please.

More to the point, it’s the Christian right’s response to the whole Phil Robertson saga that troubles me and leads me to believe that we’ve forgotten why and against whom, the heathen rage. This morning I heard yet another Christian radio broadcast discussing the whole ‘freedom of speech’ war that seems to be raging around the Duck Dynasty saga, and how we believers should be coming to the defense of Phil and the gang because of all of the hatred and bigotry spewing forth from the likes of GLAAD and a number of other organizations and media personalities. While I agree it’s really disgusting, I also realize that the real ‘haters’, while hammering Phil, are really raging against God!

I say that because I believe that the Bible is true – specifically a few passages from Romans 1:

Romans 1:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Rom 1:18-32, ESV)

This passage from Romans tells us that we all know that God IS, and that those who would deny Him, are really only denying what they know to be true, resulting in the debasement of God’s natural order among other things. Those who are raging against Phil, as well as those who have been crusading for the removal of all reminders of God in the public square, are really raging against the God they know exists.

And what do we (evangelical Christians) do? We fight for ‘rights’ to free speech as if winning a few court battles is going to really solve something. Well guess what? Even if we do win a few court skirmishes, the heathen will continue to rage, in the futile attempt to justify that which they know to be wrong in the eyes of the God they know exists.

If we really love them like we say we do, we would remember that they are raging not against us, but against God, that we too were once the objects of God’s wrath, and we would endeavor to lead them to the Cross of Christ. And that my friends is not something we can do while we battle with them for ‘rights’. I also believe that the battle for ‘rights’ can, and does, distract us from the mission of sharing the gospel and that the enemy love it when we get distracted!

Think about it.

From Africa to Asia, Offended Muslims Vent Anger on Churches

Open Doors News

September 27 (Open Doors News) — Across much of the Muslim world, more than two weeks of backlash to the internet video "Innocence of the Muslims" has occasionally been directed at Christians, from computer hacks to church burnings.

It can be difficult to sort deliberate acts of persecution from simple undirected anger sparked by the video, which portrays Muhammad as a womanizer and false prophet. And, as anger over the video reverberates from Africa to Asia, it can be difficult to distinguish between video-inspired backlash against Christians and the longer-running pattern of pressure targeted at Christians that has existed long before the film clip hit YouTube.

On Sept. 16, five days after Libyan rioters in Benghazi killed the U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, a band of gunmen in the Nigerian city of Bauchi shot dead six Christian men playing cards. Though the killings were carried out at the same time demonstrators were marching in cities across the region to protest the video, the Bauchi state governor said the killings were not religiously motivated. Instead, authorities said they were part of a deadly weekend of violence in that part of Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram, a radical Islamic sect that has carried out attacks in a similar manner in the past.

There was little doubt, however, two days earlier in the Niger town of Zinder as about 1,000 Muslims emerged from the Friday Jumu’ah prayers, divided into groups of several hundred each, and started marching toward the churches in town. They set the Winners Chapel afire. They severely vandalized the Union of Evangelical and Protestant churches’ community center, the Church of the Assemblies of God, and a Catholic church.

Several Christians were injured, though the exact number has not been verified. After police regained control at the churches, smaller groups damaged the homes of the evangelical church pastor and homes of members of the Catholic church. Police made numerous arrests.

Meanwhile, as far away as Pakistan, Christians anticipated the wave of Muslim anger to wash into their country.

"The day the Libyans killed an American we knew this would not stay far for long," said a teacher in the northwest part of Pakistan, referring to the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack. By Sunday the 16th, rumors abounded that Christians in Pakistan were under attack.

"We were so on edge we panicked," said the teacher, whose name is being withheld to protect her from retribution. "Even when it became evident this was a false alarm, we knew it could still happen."

It did.

The following Friday, the 21st, an angry mob torched St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pakistan’s Mardan district. Protestors destroyed not only the church building but a school attended by Christian and Muslim children.

"Nothing is left," a St. Paul pastor said, sitting on a pile of rubble, turning a brick over in his hand. "Pray for the healing of our hearts and hopes, that we may be the real Church in this place and be like the Prince of Peace. I do not know if I have the energy for that."

In same week of the Benghazi attack, a church in next-door Algeria reported receiving threats because of the video. Police were alerted and no harm came to the church.

In Iraq, Christians working in government office in Mosul have started to receive written threats. "Warning to the Dirty Nazeris," the computer printouts say, referring to the word Nazareth, and ordering Christians to leave the city.

Computer hackers took down at least one Christian website in the Persian Gulf region. They replaced its usual homepage with this message:

"You have been Hacked

"Islam means Peace. We, the Muslims want peace all over the world. But you don’t want to be stay in peace. Don’t think us weak. We are more more and more stronger than you that you cannot imagine. By creating this video you have just insulted our ‘Islam’ and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and break the peace between you and us. Now we are in your cyber space to destroy it. We will hit you until you stop hitting us and want marcy for your did."

A check on the website Thursday showed a homepage that said the site is "under maintenance."

Yet amid the anger and violence, there have been some moments of peace.

Protests had spilled into Egypt during the days that followed the Sept. 11 uprising in Libya. Angry Egyptian Muslims stormed the American embassy in Cairo. It was well after midnight Sept. 14, and tear gas was in the air. In the nearby Kasr-el-Dobara Evangelical Church, fears were running high.

Unable to breach the embassy perimeter, some of the protesters turned their attention to the church. "Death to the worshippers of the cross!" they painted on the wall.

Inside, a pastor and about 30 young people prayed. The mob began to damage the downstairs bookshop. Some carried Molotov cocktails.

Then a man emerged from the crowd and started yelling. He said the Christians from the church had come to his aid, tending his wounds, during the 2011 popular uprising against the Egyptian government. Then another man stepped forward, and said the church had offered water, earlier that very day, to wash the feet of Muslims before prayers.

The crowd fell silent, turned, and left.

"These two men weren’t just men," said a senior member of the church staff. "One day we will discover if they were men, or angels, just there to protect the church."

c. 2012 Open Doors News. Used with permission.

Publication date: September 28, 2012

Pakistani Christians Worry About ‘the Next Rimsha’

clip_image002LAHORE, Pakistan, Sept. 3 (Open Doors News) — Nabil was out pretending to wash his father’s car, as an evening breeze cut through Pakistan’s monsoon humidity. Together with his father and a Christian neighbor, they had made their way out of the house late last week on this everyday pretext. In reality, they were trying to prevent their Muslim neighbors and the women in their families from overhearing or worrying over their conversation.

As he wiped the car, Nabil spoke in hushed tones to their friend from two blocks away and his father, a pastor in Lahore. Nabil had come home to spend the summer with his family. Naturally, the topic was Rimsha Masih, the young Islamabad Christian girl arrested Aug. 16 after Muslim neighbors told police she was carrying burned pages of Quranic texts.

Because of the vulnerability of Christians in Pakistan, especially when questioning the country’s blasphemy law, Open Doors News is not publishing his real name.

"I live and work in the Middle East, so I am able to send my children to school here in Pakistan," Nabil said. "But I am seriously thinking of coming back now. What happens if my little Zari becomes the next Rimsha, or my wife the next Aasiya [Bibi, the first woman sentenced under Pakistan’s blasphemy law]? What good is school, if she will only graduate into prison?”

Nabil’s conversation echoed questions being raised across Pakistan. He said there is little that will change in terms of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law.

"God’s word has told us that there will be trials and tribulations, and that there will be persecution for Christians,” he told the neighbor, who questioned how Pakistani Christians could have any hope for a future.

"That is our future before we go to heaven. Either we accept that difficulty will come, or we pretend we have the right to something outside of the Word of God. Let us just seek His grace and hope.”

The conversation continued in low tones. All three were afraid their voices might carry to the neighbors. Nabil’s family lives on the second floor of a home that belongs to a Muslim landlord who lives directly below them. He is always concerned that his children will say something to cause them to be falsely accused of blaspheming against the prophet Mohammad, the Quran or Islam.

The story of Rimsha has shaken Christian families across Pakistan, and has re-ignited national debate on the blasphemy law. Immediately after Rimsha’s arrest, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari warned against misuse of the law. The Sept. 2 arrest of a Muslim cleric on suspicion of placing the religious texts into the girl’s possession has elevated tensions to a high pitch.

"President Zardari has finally spoken! Thank goodness someone came to the rescue, although it seems a meager and useless attempt,” the neighbor said with some skepticism, because Rimsha’s ordeal follows three particularly devastating cases.

After being falsely accused and arrested in June 2009, Aasiya Bibi became the first woman in Pakistan sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. She has been languishing in a Pakistani prison and solitary confinement ever since. Her controversial case prompted criticism of the blasphemy law from Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who were subsequently assassinated. Threats also have been leveled at Sherry Rehman, the Pakistan Ambassador to the United States.

c. 2012 Open Doors News. Used with permission.

Publication date: September 4, 2012

Persecution, A Consequence of Godly Living

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

(2 Timothy 3:1-5, 10-13 ESV)

Shortly before his death, in his 2nd letter to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul speaks of the terrible godlessness of the ‘last days’, encouraging the young pastor of the church at Ephesus to remain strong in the faith no matter what trials he might face. After speaking of his own suffering and persecution, he declares:

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (v. 12)

While we tend to focus on the ‘last days’ and it’s sinfulness, we often gloss over this short passage. Perhaps there a few significant points to ponder.

1. We are told that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Not some, but ALL.

2. We are told that those who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted. We are not told those who actually life a godly life will be persecuted, but those who desireto do so willsuffer. Is that an indication that those whose desire is to live godly in fact live godly lives? Is it saying something about being able to appear to live godly without a genuine desire to do so, for whatever reason? Perhaps it’s both.

3. We are told that those who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. That speaks to a genuinely godly life – in Christ Jesus – not a tawdry imitation born of selfish reasons. There seems to be noticeable difference between what’s real and what’s Memorex. It’s one thing to not be ‘one of the popular crowd’ because of proud, self-righteous behavior and quite another because your life gives off the aroma of Christ living in you. The former is deserved while the latter is the ‘smell of death’ to those that are perishing in their sin (2 Cor 2:16). The light of Christ always exposes darkness for what it is and convicts those in bondage to their sin, of their sin.

4. Finally we are told that those who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. It’s not a ‘maybe’ thing. A godly life in Christ will always bring suffering and persecution. Call it a ‘natural’ outcome of a vibrant life in Christ. You don’t have to look for it and you won’t be able avoid it unless you are never seen in public.

So what are we to do?

First, realize that persecution from the world is a natural and inevitable consequence of your desire to live a godly life, for genuine desire will bear the fruit of godly living.

Secondly, when suffering and persecution comes at the hand of those who hate you because they hate Christ, follow Paul’s advice to young Timothy:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (Emphasis mine)(2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

We ordinary folk might not be pastors or specially gifted evangelists, but we all have the ministry of evangelism – to present Christ to the lost world in which we live! And when real p[persecution comes (We ain’t seen nothin’ yet!) we will be able to say with Paul in prison:

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. . . .What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

(Philippians 1:12-13, 18 – 21 ESV)

Doug Wilson vs. Pro-Gay Activists at IU in Bloomington

Pastor Doug Wilson, from Moscow Idaho, went to the campus of Indiana University back in April to do some talks on sexuality (link to complete lectures and Q&A). About half the room that showed up were there to yell, ridicule, heckle, and completely disrespect him based on his stance that homosexuality is a sin, all while yelling at him about love and tolerance.

I love Wilson’s quote: “The diversity crowd has two fundamental tenets: the first is that they have an absolute commitment to free speech, and the second tenet is, ‘Shut up.'” (Immediately followed by a heckler yelling, “Yeah, shut up!” – Seriously, the irony would be funny if it weren’t so sad.)

Denny Burk has some good observations about this whole thing:

1. The gay activists shouting for “tolerance” are the most shrill, intolerant personalities in the room. The irony seems to be completely lost on the protesters and naysayers who are quite disrespectful and cruel to Doug Wilson throughout his presentations. They demanded Wilson to give them logic and respect, but they gave him none in return.

2. Thanks be to God for Doug Wilson who rose to the task and answered their questions biblically and with good humor! He actually looks like he enjoys the sparring. That kind of winsomeness goes farther than winning every argument (though he also seems to win every argument too). Christians, take note. When reviled, do not revile in return (1 Pet. 2:23). Instead, bless those who curse you (Luke 6:28). Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness (Prov. 16:21). A gentle answer turns away wrath, and the tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable (Prov. 15:1-2).

3. Post-modern gobbledygook thinking is on massive display here. The students aren’t interested in attacking the reliability of the Bible on scientific or historical grounds. Traditional apologetics would have been useless here. Almost to a man, they were concerned with judging the morality of the Bible. They deconstructed the Bible and manipulated texts to their own ends but then also stood in judgment over the Bible where it didn’t fit their views. In everything, their intuitions and feelings about the nature of reality defined everything.

4. It is not difficult to see how the hostility on display in this video might be turned into open persecution of Christians. I do not mean to be an alarmist, but it is hard to ignore the level of vitriol that more and more seems to be directed toward Christians for their views on homosexuality. This encounter with Wilson is just a single instance of a disdain that is becoming more widespread in the culture. What will be the public implications of that disdain in the next 10, 20, or even 30 years? It seems to me that the vitriol on display in this video is on its way to becoming the majority view. For Christians, this is not likely to get any easier for us going forward.

5. The Lord’s arm is not too short to save (Is. 59:1). Our culture’s spiritual decline is not inevitable. Who knows what God might do if we bear witness faithfully to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Let’s do that, and pray for God to have mercy on us and our neighbors.

Share