Monday, August 2, 2010

Persecution is coming

This spring news came out that in the year between mid 2008 and mid 2009, some 176,000 Christians were killed for their faith - just for believing in Jesus. This is the most on record, rising sharply from the 130,000 range in the 1990's:  http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.printable&pageId=143493

Wow, that blew me away! How about you? Most of us live in countries where we enjoy freedom of religion. In fact, the entire reason the early colonist came to America was for exactly that purpose. But have we grown complacent in that freedom? Do we take it for granted? Have we become too occupied with the prosperity doctrine or endless debates about the rapture or listening ever so intently for the latest prophecy about the next calamity to befall us?  I say Yes.
 
It seems we have isolated ourselves in the safe walls of our church environment, our Bible studies, potlucks, worship concerts, and our comfortable pews that we not only don't see what's going on in other parts of the word, we don't care. Yet aren't these other believers supposed to be our brothers and sisters? Aren't we all supposed to be one family in Christ? Would you ignore it if you heard your brother or sister or mother or father was going to be killed on Monday?
 
Well, you say, what can I do about it? Well, at least you can pray. You can find out about what's happening and pray to Almighty God for your brothers and sisters. And if God places on your heart to help them, check out this website: http://www.persecution.com/ 
 
And don't think for a minute that this persecution isn't coming your way. I have forseen a time of intense persecution for all believers in the near future. Jesus also predicted it in Mattew 24:9 Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake..   So , should we be afraid? No. I believe this must happen to strengthen the church, to wake us up from our complacency, to weed out those who truly know the Lord from those who are just playing church.  Paul calls this the Great Apostasy or great falling away in 2 Thess 2:  (Amplified version)
Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the [a]apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great [b]falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the son of doom (of perdition),
 
Think of the church of Acts. How could 12 men turn the world upside down? (Without TV or Internet, or airplanes!)  I believe the early church grew so quickly and with such strength BECAUSE of the intense persecution they were under. Not that I'm downplaying the power of the Holy Spirit, but think about it. We human beings only turn to God when things are going badly, when we are afraid, and He's the only one who can help us. And you can bet that most of the Christians in the early church were TRUE Christians. Why would you join a group when it meant becoming poor, rejected by society, and most likely death? Sounds good to me. Sign me up!
 
Why am I telling you this? Not to scare you, but to wake you up. Christianity is not a social club, not a set of rules or moral codes. It is not going to church on Sunday and reading Christian novels (although I highly recommend both!) No. Christianity is denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Jesus. It is Knowing Him by relationship and experience and being willing to die if necessary rather than deny Him.
 
Let each ask ourselves this question. If someone stormed into your house today with a machine gun and asked you to deny Jesus or be killed, what would your answer be?

9 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you posted this! My best friend and I were just talking about this a couple of days ago, because we, too, think that persecution is coming to America very, very soon!
    I'm actually a little excited about it in a strange way - because I completely agree with what you said about how Christianity spread so quickly in the beginning directly because of persecution. And historically, as soon as Rome legalized Christianity a couple of centuries later, the spread wound down to a trickle, and all sorts of pseudo-Christian cult denominations began to emerge.
    I've thought about this before, how in our pampered American lives today, if the cable or Internet goes out for a mere hour, we think it's worst thing that could ever happen to us, but soon, we could be having our church services in caves at five in the morning so we don't get caught, like Christians do in China, or even living in the woods like Robin Hood because there's a price on all our heads. It's really something that puts your priorities in order...

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  2. Yes, you are absolutely right. Thanks for reminding us. I would just like to point out that persecucion for Christian beliefs has already come to the US at a certain level. We may not be physically tortured or killed (yet) but real believers are not popular nor even acceptable to the majority. There's an evil day coming...

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  3. I totally agree! As Americans, I believe that we are probably some of the most spoiled people in the world. We have grown up with these freedoms and have alway's had them in our lives, so we don't really grasped the concept of NOT having them. To fear for your life just because you believe in something, is NOT something that we've ever had to do. But, there will come a day when we will, and I wonder if we'll be prepared enough to handle it.

    Amber Minnehan
    amberminnehan@yahoo.com

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  4. Debbie Mitchell debsbunch5@jesusanswers.comAugust 2, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    No one knows what they are actual capable of until they are put into that situation first hand. I pray that my faith is anchored enough in Jesus to withstand anything that comes my way, including persecution. If you 'pose' that question right now, "Deny Jesus or be killed"? I would say I would never deny Jesus! Yet, should it really happen, no one can say for 'certain' what they would do. Let us all pray for one another to be strong in any situation. Prayer is very powerful! God bless us ALL! Thank you, MaryLu, once again.

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  5. We see this happening first hand and it's frightening! I personally have one dear friend I've known since school days who was a Christian and now has fallen away from Christianity. I'm sickened by his sarcastic and degrading retorts to my arguments and appeals to find out what happened to his faith and why. He argues that the church left him, he didn't leave the church. He hated the politics he was seeing played out in the churches he belonged to. I see what happened to him a demonic way that something stormed into his relationship with Christ and machine-gunned him out of his belief. This is frightening!!

    About the question. I would like to believe the protection of the Holy Spirit and Christ would be over me and I don't want to add a "but," however I deeply want to believe that I would never deny Jesus that I would rather be killed and go to heaven and live; being a frightened human being, I can't say that with total conviction.

    Being new to this blog, MaryLu, I don't know whether this an actual published book, or a website to join. Thank you for what you gave us to think about - not that I don't think about it constantly. I pray for relief from this persecution and will obey God and make others aware.

    Blessed Be in Christ,
    Barb Shelton
    Arlington, TX
    barbjan10@tx.rr.com

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  6. Yes, Sapphire, I too am a tad bit excited about the coming persecution only because I believe the church will finally become the powerful force God intended it to be. And I agree with the rest of you that some persecution has already begun in our country for Christians. When I was growing up, nearly everyone went to church and called themselves Christians. Now, hardly anyone does. Where I live, only 4% of the population even goes to church!
    Sorry to hear about your friend, Barb. It's sad to see believers fall away and even more difficult when they begin to hate you for your steadfast belief. Also, welcome to my blog. Every Monday I post a devotional or something the Lord has been speaking to me about. There's nothing to join but I welcome you back anytime!
    Let us all remember to pray for our brothers and sisters who are giving up their lives for our Savior!

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  7. Mary Lu...Thank you so much for writing this and having the courage to speak up. I remember my pastor from years ago talking about this very thing...and it's strange, but it's something that I've felt on my heart for the last few years. I don't know if I "see the writing on the wall" so to speak...but I do notice little changes...and it does give me reason to be concerned!!! ...but always remember that God holds our future :) :) :)
    I think that the Christian church, in the USA, at least has become a bit Westernized..in that we get wrapped up in ourselves and all the "church" things we do, we forget to invest time in people. That was just a random thought that came to mind as I was reading your blog post today :) :) :)
    Thanks for posting this. I hope that I would have the courage to stand up for my belief in Jesus Christ when asked to do so!! Have a great week, Mary Lu!!! Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

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  8. Persecution. As a Christian, I also feel a little excited when I hear that word. But there's also a good amount of fear. I've read true stories about Christians who have suffered great persecution, such as Corrie Ten Boom, Haralan Popov, and several others, and so much evil was done to them that I am scared of what could happen to me. Would I be strong enough to keep Christ's name at all costs? Right now, I believe that I could. Right now, I believe that the strength, power, and peace of Jesus living in me is a force powerful enough to protect me though my body may endure the worst. Right now, I love Jesus so much that I would never want to reject him. But if I ever ended up enduring what other Christians have gone through, I don't know. I honestly can't say for sure. The only thing I'm sure of is that whatever happens here in this life, in the next I'm going to be with Jesus.

    History has proven that with persecution more people turn to Christ. That is my hope for others who don't yet know him, that they would come to know him. If God needs to allow persecution for it to happen, then so be it.

    ~Sasafras

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  9. Hi MaryLu

    Yes, we're all in need of a wake-up call every once in a while! we tend to forget so easily what Christianity really is and how much it cost the Lord to reconcile us to Himself.
    May God give us the grace to always remember
    Thanks for the post
    Karien

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