Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.(1Peter 4:12-14)
When millions of Christians are suffering at the hands of Muslims one has to wonder how the follower of Jesus is to behave and react to this horrific persecution and genocide. For the follower of Christ, violence in never an option no matter the justification. Vengeance belongs to God so let us leave it with Him. How then, do we put aside our anger and indignation? How do we continue the ministry of the Gospel of Christ with love and compassion to a world that hates this message of hope? I, like many of you, have been struggling with anger and frustration over the atrocities that some Muslims are perpetuating against Christians throughout the world. I have had to pray often to God that He would deliver me from the anger I have felt towards the Muslim community. This has been difficult and conflicting for me, I have cried before God and pleaded for Justice. (Ok, sometimes I have even demanded it.) I have struggled in the endeavor to deny my sinful nature and trust God with His greater plan. So I thought it would be a good time to share what God has been teaching me.
First Christ reminded me to, “Love your Enemies”.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This is much easier to say than to do. Paul wrote in Romans, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14) For the follower of Christ we are not only to love those who want to inflict harm on us, but we must also bless and pray for them. Notice that Paul says not to curse. This love can only come from knowing Christ as your savior, because it comes from Him. Jesus not only fulfilled this on the cross, He demonstrated it. Jesus showed love to the thief on the cross by granting him salvation even after he mocked the Lord. Jesus prayed for those crucifying him and even offered the blessing of forgiveness. Christ showed His compassion when he prayed for them.
But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”(Luke 12:34a)
It is impossible show the love of Christ and demonstrate compassion when you hate. They cannot coexist. The disciple John fully understood this when he wrote: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”(1John4:8)
Second, God reminded me to Pray
The Scriptures are full of examples of what to pray for. The fact is that we are to pray about everything and we are to pray without ceasing. When it comes to persecution here are the prayers I am learning.
1)Pray for those who are committing genocide. Plead for God’s mercy and grace. 2)Pray for the endurance and peace of those being persecuted. 3)Pray that God overwhelms you with His enduring love and compassion for the Muslim community.
Third, God showed me that we are not to be in solidarity with the world.
You cannot serve to masters, or ideologies. Either you stand with Jesus, the cross, the Bible and the beleaguered Church; or you stand with the world.
I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of Your hand: for you have filled me with indignation.(Jeremiah 15:17)
The world is constantly trying to marginalize the message that Christianity brings. Some people have a big tent theory to their faith. They do not want to ruffle the feathers of other religions, they want to appease the world by sacrificing the message. In the process of diluting the Gospel they lose their very soul to religious conformity. Paul addressed this several times in the New Testament.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) (Belial is a Hebrew word used in Jewish texts for the devil.)
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:17)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
We should not mix the idea of religious solidarity with love. They are separate. Jesus showed love and compassion, but His message often offended those around Him. He even informed His followers not to lose their salt. Our love needs to be bold and unconditional; but our support should always be with the followers of Jesus and the Gospel. We need to stand and Intercede with them. We should speak out against violence and do all that we can to help and minister to the needs of the oppressed and persecuted. We need to stand firm in our faith, not compromising. Love and compassion do not equate to compromising the message of the Bible or our commitment to Jesus. We are the salt of the earth!
When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7)
4th, The Body of Christ needs to be Active.
In the 1980’s Steve Camp wrote a song called, “What would the Devil Say About Your Life?” It begs the question every Christian should ask of themselves. Would satan see you as an ally or an enemy? Is he threatened by your relationship with God? For most people their is no action behind their faith. They hardly participate in the ministry of Christ. The life of a follower of Christ is meant to be active and full of struggles. The more trials, the more we experience the reality of God in our lives. We need to be active in prayer and in our knowledge of the Bible. We need to be active in our ministry to the poor and to the oppressed. We need to be active in love and sharing the good news of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. We need to be active in sharing our faith and encouraging one another. We need to be active in promoting a unified body of Christ. How can we learn to love our enemies if we fail to love one another?
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:23-25)
I encourage you to be bold in your faith. Let Jesus shine through to everyone. Let His love fill your life. May you grow in Him as you travel the hard road ahead. Be the salt, long lasting in flavor. Your behavior towards others is a #proofofyourfaith