Tag Archives: persecution

Response to a Blog

You can find the blog in question here. Discussion can be found here.

*sigh*

Once again, it is the hatred, ignorance, and bigotry of the fanatical minority that earns the vast majority an undeserved label and stigma. It is exactly because of this reaction that I sometimes wish to distance myself from those people who call themselves Christians, yet somehow use those beliefs to justify their hatred and bitterness toward anyone who does not believe exactly like them.

Unfortunately, the instances of behavior cited in this blog are examples of people who have little to no understanding of the Scripture and of the work of Christ. The author himself demonstrates his complete unfamiliarity with the teachings of the Bible (and historical and
archaeological evidence), yet somehow considers himself informed enough to comment. Seems ironic to me, somehow.

I understand and appreciate the fact that Christians are going to be hated by the world. I have accepted the inevitable. People simply do not like to be told that they are sinners, that their self-indulgent behaviors are wrong and damaging, that ultimately a life lived without God is a complete waste, utter vanity. And as such, they voice their scorn and exercise their displeasure at every point possible. They do hold valid points, so far as they go — there are some Christians who obviously violate the teachings of their own belief system. They are the only ones, however, who ever make headlines, who anyone ever hears about. As a result the entire Christian faith is characterized by those few individuals who really messed up. It’s not fair, but it is the way it is.

The rest of us have to work ten times harder to share our faith. Persecution increases, though in the US we have yet to see it escalate to physical violence. Partly, we as Christians have brought this on ourselves; partly, it is the ‘natural’ order of things as we share a message that many simply do not wish to hear. The only way for Christians to overcome the stigma assigned to us is to be even more open and obvious in our lifestyles about the TRUE message of Christianity, so that those who hate in the name of Christ are exposed as the true minority. We must share our Message, we must love more strongly than others can hate, we must sacrifice and serve and care so that others can see that Christ truly is the Son of God and that God
is, in actuality, a God of love and justice.

It is things like this article that sometimes make me wonder if we as Christians have a chance of influencing the world for Christ. Yet, I am reminded that we cannot change the world all once. It can only be changed one person at a time, and sometimes I feel like that is much
too slow for me. But Christ’s focus was always on the relationship, and so to change the world, we must have relationship with those of the world and demonstrate Christ’s love through that relationship.

What Does It Really Mean To Be ‘Evangelical’?

It occurred to me over this past weekend to wonder what it really means to be ‘evangelical’? I overheard a couple of individuals (who were obviously not Christians) talking about different
kinds of Christians and what they stood for, and they threw the word ‘evangelical’ around like it was a swear word. It made me wonder what the word really meant and whether or not it means the same thing in today’s culture. So, I looked it up on this website, and this is what I found:

evangelical [i:vænʒelɪkəl]
A adjective
1 evangelical
relating
to or being a Christian church believing in personal conversion and the
inerrancy of the Bible especially the 4 Gospels; “evangelical
Christianity”; “an ultraconservative evangelical message”
2 evangelical
of or pertaining to or in keeping with the Christian gospel especially as in the first 4 books of the New Testament
3 evangelical, evangelistic
marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause

As these definitions stand here, I see little trouble in accepting the term ‘evangelical’ as accurate and correct. I would even consider myself an evangelical Christian.

Here is where I think the problem lies. Look at the second example in the first definition: “an ultraconservative evangelical message.” I don’t have a problem with the example itself, per se. However, one word stands out to me as the place where we as Christians have problems in relating to the world around us — conservative. I believe we need to be conservative as far as preserving truth goes. However, in our practices, I think Christians sometimes have swung so far to the extreme as to no longer be conservative. Instead, so many of our churches have become legalistic, even Pharisaical. This is the real rub with those we are trying to win
to Christ. As evangelicals we strive to preach the Gospel, to share the hope that is within us. But as legalists we are harsh and cruel and judgmental. We strive so hard to preserve the
truth, to preserve the facts of our faith that we forget the human element. We forget that we
are also supposed to be compassionate and caring and sensitive. I hear a lot of gossip in our churches, a lot of judgment, and I see a lot of anger and bitterness and strife — with each other! We see the sin and faults of our brothers and sisters (and of the world around us), and we pass judgment on them and distance ourselves from them. And I fear that in this process we have damaged our testimony in such a way that it’s no wonder we find ourselves faced
with so much cynicism from the world.

Of course, I realize this is not the case with all Christians or even all churches. But the trouble is that it is so much easier to see the bad than the good, and so those of us who strive to live like Christ are overshadowed by those who think they are living like Christ but who are, in actuality, living like the very Pharisees whom He condemned. Christ said that we would be hated by the world, that we would be persecuted by it, but I see the Church bringing so much of that condemnation upon itself because of what some are doing that undermines our work. I myself struggle with a cynical attitude toward so many Christians and churches, and I have to wonder, if I struggle with this while I am part of the Body, how much more do those who are without struggle with seeing their need for this Christ whom we so poorly represent?

In our beliefs I believe we should be conservative, preserving the truth of God’s Word. In our practices, I believe we should be progressive, reaching out into the world and moving with it, adjusting accordingly as we seek to meet its needs, to display this God we love, to win them to the Kingdom. Christ came to love sinners. Why can’t we do the same?

Misunderstanding the Gospel

I am of the opinion that the Gospel is the single most misunderstood topic in the history of mankind (even among Christians themselves). It has incited Crusades of death and persecution and yet has inspired millions to give their lives to Christ.

The most current example of this misunderstanding is the criticism of the release of The Passion of the Christ. One news periodical criticizes the movie harshly, saying, “The Reporter also says that the movie’s violence is so intense and more important than character development that audiences may have trouble with that.” I’ve not yet seen the movie (though I hope to this weekend), but the point of this particular movie is NOT to provide quality character development or shield us from the violence of that moment in history. Quite the opposite in fact. It is to show us the very graphic nature of what Christ went through to atone for our sins. And quite frankly, if you want character development, take some time to read through the Gospels for the complete view of Christ and his earthly ministry.

A local talkshow host advocated the movie during his broadcast last night, pointing out that many of the critics of this movie have yet to see it. His advice to said critics was to go see the movie and then form an opinion. And while he advocated the movie and was so close to being correct, he was also soFAR from being correct. He made the statement that Gibson’s goal in producing this movie was marketing and that local churches also are using it as marketing to get people into the pews. This is both correct and not correct (and here is a facet of the misunderstanding). On one hand, it is marketing insofar as it is intended to draw people. But that is NOT the primary goal. The primary goal is to share the Gospel, using a clear depiction of what Christ went through in His final hours to drive home the weight of that moment that has forever impacted and changed history. This is the thing that the unsaved world simply cannot understand. It is not marketing that we care about — it is souls. We desire to bring others to Christ so that they, too, may be spared from eternal damnation, as we have been. And the ONLY reason this movie has been so criticized so harshly even before its official release is because it is a religious movie, and a Christian religious movie at that. No one complains about the intense violence and lack of character development in a Jean Claude Van Damme movie (or any other movie or television show, for that matter).

..edit.. This website is a prime example of the Christian contribution to the misunderstanding of the Gospel. While I respect this organization’s attempt to exhort and correct a perceived wrong, it is Christian ‘wackos’like these who inspire hate and disgust of all those who bear the name of Christ while at the same time taking the Scriptures out of context in order to suit their own purposes and interpretations of the Bible. And it is exactly this kind of ‘Christian’ that makes me want to distance myself from everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ so as to avoid tainting my own ministry to others and to cleanse this bitter taste from my mouth.

Heresy? Or Not?

Call me weird, call me a heretic, if you will. But I don’t believe that our government should be based on the will of the Christian ‘minority’…. I believe it should be based upon the will of the majority. Granted, our nation was initially founded on biblical principles. It was founded on the notion that freedom would reign, that people would be able to worship God as they see fit, even if the God they serve is merely themselves. America was founded as a republic, a place where the people could have a say as to how they govern themselves. The reason that I believe the way I do is because of this notion, that the people choose the shape of their country’s government. Christianity will thrive no matter the shape of the government. Christianity is not a religion of authoritarianism or of dictatorship. It is a kingdom of grace and truth, and it is our responsibility to bring others into the kingdom, not by force, but by the grace and power and love of God. Some Christians think we should force the rest of the nation to become something of a theocracy, but I know from experience that the best way to turn someone off to God is to force them to ‘love’ and ‘serve’ Him. So, let the people choose their government, and let the Christians continue to do what they do, serve God and love others into the Kingdom, sharing the truth in love, as we are commanded, and bearing up under the persecution that results from those who hate us.

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P.S. Don’t get me wrong…. I’m not saying that Christians can’t or shouldn’t be involved in politics. I think we should be involved in every arena of life. I just think that we should focus on the eternal, using the temporal to affect the lives of others as we can. And, hey, if we again end up with a government based upon biblical principles and run according to God’s law, then so be it (though I doubt we will ever see a Christian society again until the millenial reign).

Christians and Politics

So, some Christians (I don’t really know how many) think it’s better to not get involved in the political arena because we have a more important work, that being to win souls to Christ. Yet, I have to disagree with the notion of non-involvment. It seems to me that part of our responsibility as stewards is to be involved in every arena as much as possible in order to have the greatest influence possible. Granted, our most important work is that of the Kingdom. The eternal state of man’s soul is of utmost importance, and we should be striving in everything we do to see others added to the Family.

We have a great freedom to move about and worship as we wish in this country, something few other countries can claim. Persecution is rampant across the globe, and there is greater insurgency of persecution arising here in the US, as well. And guess where that persecution originates? Politics! Many of the liberals in power have been trying to pass legislation to limit the religious freedom of Christians. The Ten Commandments dispute in Alabama is a prime example of this. And without strong, moral Christians in politics to take a strong stance against these would-be persecutors, our very freedoms might be stripped from us, freedoms that were hard-won at the foundation of this country, freedoms that were bled on by our men who fought and died for a freedom that they so dearly held to and believed in. We Christians (and conservatives) tend to be way too quiet about things, preferring to hope that the other side will see reason, come to their sense, and change their ways. Well, I have news for you, they haven’t, and they won’t. So, we have to stand strong and fight against them in order to hang on to and win back the freedoms that allow us to worship and speak freely about our faith.

I have a deep respect for the men in Congress and in local government who stand strong against their liberal, intolerant peers, as well as for the talk-show hosts who keep us informed of what we are not being told. Support these men who stand up for what is right, and exercise your voice in the voting booth each and every opportunity you have. It is our right as US citizens, as well as our responsibility as Christians.