Sat, 10/04/2008 – 19:00 — David Watson
One of the greatest distinctives of Christianity is the command to “love your enemies” (Luke 6:27-36 NIV). We often don’t live out the commands found this passage very well, but when we do, there is a tremendous impact on the Community of Believers and those who would do then harm. Persecution takes many forms, and as Believers, we are never to respond in kind. In fact, according to Scripture, we are to respond with love, blessings, prayer, peace, mercy, generosity and service.
LK 6:27“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29“ Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30“Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31“ Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32“ If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33“If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34“ If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36“ Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
There are three major areas where there is significant physical violence, including death, against Christians – Muslim controlled areas, Hindu controlled areas, and Communist controlled areas. None of these events are well published in the Western press. It seems that the list of Hate Crimes does not include murdering and torturing Christians. And in the West there is a rising non-violent persecution of obedient Believers which is reflected in the lack of reporting of hate crimes against Christians, and legislation that limits the practice of Christianity, even as Muslims are gaining ground with their demands for prayer and fast-breaking times in schools, government offices, and businesses.
What the World does not understand is that there are many people who call themselves Christians, but do not live out the faith as taught in Scripture. Events such as the Crusades and organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan have been portrayed as Christian, yet they fail the test of Christianity according to the Bible. Many churches, today, fail the test of Christianity, and mislead the non-Christians in understanding who Christ is, who Christians are, and what Christians ought to believe and behave.
I was personally appalled when after 9/11 many churches and organizations recalled their personnel from Muslim controlled lands, and even refused to show any love to Muslims in their neighborhoods. I heard one leader comment, “Let’s bring our workers home, those Muslims deserve to go to hell!”
We seem to have forgotten what Paul wrote in Romans 5:6-11 (NIV).
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Christ died for the lost of the world – those who are ungodly and His enemies. Christ was raised for the saved, and it is through His life that we have righteousness (Philippians 1:8-11, 3:8-11) and salvation (Acts 4:5-12), and we are commanded to be like Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2).
It is not until the Community of Believers become obedient to Christ and imitators of Christ, that we will have significant impact on our physical communities, families, friends, and even enemies. It has been my observation and experience, that where Christians love their enemies, even in the face of death, there is an explosion of church planting.
13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you— not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him. (1 Peter 3:13-22 NIV)
Websites related to the persecution of Christians: