There is no doubt that persecution is a stark reality of living for a disciple of Jesus. For a disciple of Jesus, persecution is to be expected. The apostle Paul warned that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in the Messiah Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Not may be. Will be! That means me! Why do the internet trolls bother me? Are they not expected? They are mild compared what is coming.
The religious leaders and elites will come after us.
The political leaders and elites will come after us.
They killed Jesus. They may kill us. They may kill me.
Am I prepared? Secularism is the new religion. Atheism is a religion. At a minimum they are coming after us. They are serious. Just ask some regular folks who lost their businesses when they dared to stand up for traditional marriage.
What is dangerous is that the government is helping the secularists and atheists. It’s not just China or North Korea we need to worry about.
“The church that the sexual revolution has built is thriving, all right, and those outside need to know what’s in there. But its pews are packed with casualties—every one of them a convert waiting to happen, for the Church that does keep its promises”. Source: The Zealous Faith of Secularism | Mary Eberstadt
We all seem to lament the demise of Christianity in our country. We must recognize the deadly danger of Secular Religion’s dogma. The casualties are strewn in the streets and we are stepping over the bodies. It is a call to arms to save the lost souls. Jesus demands we take action. Will we? Will we do something today?
“Secularist progressivism is less a political movement than a church, and the so-called culture war has not been conducted by people of religious faith and people of no faith. It is instead a contest of competing faiths. One believes in the books of the Bible, and the other in the evolving, figurative book of orthodoxy about the sexual revolution.” Source: The Zealous Faith of Secularism | Mary Eberstadt
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus said that, if they persecuted Him, they will also persecute His followers (John 15:20). Jesus made it clear that those of the world will hate a disciple of Jesus because the world hates the Messiah.
If I were like the world (or a Secularist) — vain, earthly, sensual, and given to pleasure, wealth, and ambition — the world would not oppose me. But a disciple of Jesus does not belong to the world, which is why the world engages in a disciple’s persecution (see John 15:18–19).
A disciple of Jesus is influenced by different principles from those of the world. We are motivated by the love of God and holiness, while the world is driven by the love of sin. It is our very separation from the world that arouses the world’s animosity (1 Peter 4:3–4).
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
Persecution — Religious authorities and elites are an agency of it: We must not forget that it was the religious elites and leaders who convicted Jesus and sent Him to His death on the cross. Many times they had sought to kill him. They finally succeeded. Are they coming after me? Are they coming after you?
- 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16 — For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in the Messiah Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Master Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.
- Jeremiah 26:8 — When Jeremiah finished speaking all that the Master had commanded him to speak to all the people, the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, “You must die!
- Amos 7:12–13 — Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah and there eat bread and there do your prophesying! “But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.”
- Matthew 23:34–37 — “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
- Acts 4:27–29 — “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. “And now, Master, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence.”
- Acts 5:17–18 — But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.
- Acts 22:4 — “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons.”
Five stages of Persecution
I. Stereotyping the targeted group – To stereotype means to repeat without variation, to take a quality or observation of a limited number, and generalize it of the whole group. It involves a simplified and standardized conception or view of a group based on observation of a limited sample.
And thus as the 1960s and 70s progressed Catholics and Bible-believing Christians were often caricatured in the media as Bible thumpers, simpletons, as backwards, mentally simple, haters of science, hypocrites, self-righteous, old-fashioned and so forth.
Catholics in particular were also accused of having neurotic guilt, hatred or aversion of sexuality, of being in a sexist institution. of it being stuck in the past, with too many rules, being authoritarian, of having clergy who were sexually repressed, homosexuals or pedophiles.
Basically as the stereotype goes, Catholics and Bible believing Christians are a sad, angry, boring, backward and repressed lot. To many who accept the stereotyping we are a laughable, even tragic group, caught in a superstitious past, incapable of throwing off the shackles of faith.
To be sure, not everyone engages in this stereotyping to the same degree, but here are the basic refrains of it. And the general climate of this sort of stereotyping sets the foundation for the next stage.
II. Vilifying the targeted Group for alleged crimes or misconduct, – As the stereotyping grows in intensity, Catholics and Christians, who did not toe the line in the cultural revolution were described as, close-minded, harmful to human dignity and freedom, intolerant, hateful, bigoted, unfair, homophobic, reactionary and just plain mean and basically bad people.
The History of the Church is also described myopically as little more than bad and repressive behavior as we conducted crusades, inquisitions, and hated Galileo and all of science. Never mind that there might be a little more to the story, or that the Church founded universities, and hospitals, was the patron of the arts, and preached a Gospel that brought order and civilization to divided and barbarous time in the aftermath of the Roman Empire. Stereotyping will hear little of that, or, if it does, it will give the credit to anything or anyone but the Church and the faith.
In writing this, I fully expect to get a bevy of comments saying in effect that this is exactly what we are. And not only will they feel justified in saying this, but even righteous as they say so, so ingrained has this vilifying become in the wider culture.
As with any large group, individual Christians and Catholics will manifest some negative traits, but stereotyping and vilifying, and crudely and indiscriminately presuming the negative traits of a few to be common to all in unjust.
Yet all of this has the effect of creating a self-righteous indignation toward believers and of making anti-Catholic and anti-Christian attitudes a permissible bigotry for many today.
III. Marginalizing the targeted group’s role in society – Having established the (untrue) premise that the Church and the faith is very bad, and even harmful to human dignity and freedom, the next stage seeks to relegate the role of the Church to the margins.
To many in secularized culture, religion must go. They will perhaps let us have our hymns etc. in the four walls of our churches, but the faith must be banished from the public square.
In this stage it becomes increasingly unacceptable and intolerable that anyone should mention God, pray publicly or in any way bring their Christian faith to bear on matters of public policy. Nativity sets must go, out with Christmas trees, even the colors green and red at “holiday time” are banished from many public schools.
Do not even think of mentioning Jesus or of publicly thanking him in your valedictorian address, you could very well have a Circuit Court judge forbid you under penalty of law. You can thank the Madonna, but only if you mean the singer.
The LGBT club is welcome to set up shop and pass out rainbow colored condoms at the high school, but Christians better hit the road, no Bibles or pamphlets better see the light of day anywhere in the school building…separation of Church and state you know.
IV. Criminalizing the targeted group or its works – Can someone say HHS mandate?
But prior to this egregious attempt to violate our religious liberty there have been many other times we have had to go to court to fight for our rights to openly practice our faith. Increasing litigation is being directed against the Church and other Christians for daring to live out our faith.
Some jurisdictions have sought to compel Catholic hospitals and pro-life clinics to provide information or referrals for abortion, to provide “emergency contraception” (i.e. the abortifacient known as the morning after pill), Several branches of Catholic Charities have been de-certified from doing adoption work because they will not adopt children to gay couples. The State of Connecticut sought regulate the structure, organization and running of Catholic parishes in 2009. And recently a number of Christian valedictorians in various states have suffered legal injunctions when it was discovered that they would dare to mention God, and Jesus in their talk. (More HERE)
Many of these attempts to criminalize the faith have been successfully rebuffed in the courts, but the frequency of lawsuits, and the time and cost involved with fighting them is a huge burden. It is clear that attempts to criminalize Christian behavior is a growth sector in this culture and signals the beginnings and steady erosion of religious liberty.
Many indeed feel quite righteous, quite politically correct in their work to legally separate the practice of the faith from the public square.
V. Persecuting the targeted group outright – If current trends continue, Christians, especially religious leaders, may not be far from enduring heavy fines and jail.
Already in Canada and parts of Europe Catholic clergy have been arrested and charged with “hate crimes” for preaching Catholic Doctrine on homosexual activity.
In this country there are greater provisions for free speech but, as we have seen, there is a steady erosion in religious liberty and many Catholic dioceses are well familiar with having to spend long periods in courts defending basic religious liberty. The trajectory points to suffering, lawsuits, fines, desertification, and ultimately jail.
Unlikely you say? Alarmist? Well, stages one through four are pretty well in place. One may wish to whistle past the graveyard but it looks like we’re pretty well set for Stage V. You decide.