Is persecution against Christians on the rise today? According to Breitbart.com, Mikey Weinstein, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has been meeting with appointed members of the Pentagon to hash out court-martial procedures to be used against Christian marines, sailors, airmen, and soldiers who share their faith with other soldiers in the U.S. military. What does Mr. Weinstein hope to achieve?
Meanwhile, Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American who converted to Christianity, is now in Evin Prison in Tehran where he has been beaten, tormented psychologically, and denied proper medical treatment. Why? Iran officially says that he was undermining the country’s national security. A nurse in the prison admitted that it is because of Abedini’s faith.
Christians from Egypt to Iran to China and North Korea are currently suffering severely under official government-sanctioned measures. Christians in Syria and Iraq and India are being driven out of their homes and hometowns in waves of unofficial, but nevertheless harsh persecution. An entire town of Christians had their homes burned down by Pakistani opponents in March of this year. Such persecution has been documented in books such as Jesus in Beijing by former Time Magazine bureau chief David Aikman and Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, and Nina Shea.
Why do you suppose persecution against Christians is on the rise globally? Are Christians the most violent people on earth today? Hardly. Are we really dangerous to our neighbors? Considering the number of hospitals started by Christian denominations, rescue missions run by Christian churches, and food and water relief efforts carried out by Christian missionary agencies, the real answer is immediately evident. Christians are not, as a faith group, violent.
Did Christians call for holy war on Andres Serrano when he displayed a photograph of a crucifix in a glass of his own urine and called it “P-ss Christ”? No.
What other faith has become verboten in American public schools coast to coast? Traditional Native American religion? No. Islam? No. Buddhism? Baha’i? No and no. Secular Humanism? Again, no.
Consider the Teaching of Jesus Christ in the Face of Persecution
Jesus instructed His followers,
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)
Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away … If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:30-36)
And this man Mikey Weinstein wants to put a stop to this kind of instruction on how to treat one another? The government of Iran has a problem with people believing in a God who teaches this kind of behavior?
Jesus’ follower, Simon Peter, wrote to Christians being persecuted in first-century Asia Minor, “Maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.” (1 Peter 2:12) So it wasn’t just Jesus, but Jesus’ followers, as well, who taught us to do good in the face of mistreatment.
The apostle Paul said the greatest virtue is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) How did Paul tell Christians to go about sharing their message of love? He instructed them,
And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth and they will come to their senses and escape the devil’s trap where they are held captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
Regarding Christian behavior, James the brother of Jesus wrote, “Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” (James 1:19-20)
Why, Then, the Persecution?
In light of religions who will behead people for apostasy and others who will burn down a house on top of a family for unbelief, why single out for persecution Christianity which teaches good conduct, love, and patience? What were Jesus’ instructions to His disciples when He left this world? He told them,
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Witnesses simply tell what they have seen and heard. They leave the judging for the Judge. The problem is, I suppose, that witnesses can be persuasive. Their account of what they saw or heard can change a juror’s mind. Who wants to silence witnesses when ideas, philosophies, and belief systems are on trial? If you do, then that is your privilege. Jesus has already instructed His followers to keep loving you, to do good to you, to bless you, to pray for you, and to give to you. Should we obey our Savior? Should we still obey Him when He tells us to keep witnessing?
Why Believe in Jesus Christ?
Believe in Jesus Christ precisely because, ultimately, He won’t force Himself on you. Jesus will love you eternally. But if you desire to enter eternity apart from Him—even though He died and rose from the dead to rescue you from a God-less eternity—Jesus Christ will let you. It’s infinitely sad, but He will let you.