February 19, 2020 – Wednesday
Questions and Answers
Last night I was working on Wednesday’s Verse of the Day with a verse from the Old Testament when I came down with a terrible head cold. When I went back to work on it I got around to reading a reply to Tuesday’s Verse of the Day (below). It read as follows slightly reformatted:
So walk me through this, is being mocked or harassed for openly expressing Christian principles, genuine persecution? Not really “suffering” other than perhaps being ostracized or passed over from promotion because you ‘re not a “team player”? How about the cake decorator or florist who refuses to do “gay” weddings? Are they being persecuted for righteousness’ sake? I’m guessing we don’t really know what persecution is. Many believers I’ve known go out their way to be obnoxious and invite “persecution ” in order to “feel” or appear more “righteous” , not because of being justified by faith in Christ. Agree? Perhaps Daniel and his friends are the best examples of a true Christian response to real persecution .
Really great questions. If you aren’t sure of the context reread Tuesday’s Verse of the Day below. Before reading further and looking at my answers, think about your own answers to the questions. Your answers may be better than my own. I have no guarantee or divine insight to the perfect or best answer, so I would welcome your insights to join with my own. For now let’s look at each of the questions/observations from above.
Q: So walk me through this, is being mocked or harassed for openly expressing Christian principles, genuine persecution? Not really “suffering” other than perhaps being ostracized or passed over from promotion because you ‘re not a “team player”?
A: I don’t really know. However, I would go back to the following statistic from Paul Marshall of Freedom House where he noted 80 percent of the world’s believers who are practicing their faith live in persecution. So if a person or persons are being mocked and/or harassed for practicing their faith, then it is persecution, real persecution, even though mild compared to the persecution most Christians live under. Of course this may easily result in being ostracized or passed over not for promotion but not because you are not a ‘team player.’ Instead because you are practicing your faith. You don’t attack others, don’t engage in language or humor unbecoming a believer, you pray over your food, etc. and as a result you are ostracized and not considered a team player.
Q: How about the cake decorator or florist who refuses to do “gay” weddings? Are they being persecuted for righteousness’ sake? I’m guessing we don’t really know what persecution is.
A: Clearly the cake decorator or florist who refuses to do “gay” weddings because it violates their practicing of their faith are indeed being persecuted. Some have lost their livelihood, gone into bankruptcy, or even been jailed. All for practicing their faith. Note that in all the cases I am aware of the cake decorators or florists were more than willing to provide products that did not celebrate sin. I believe these people have a real clear idea of what persecution really is. No, it’s not as bad as in many countries, but it is persecution for individuals practicing their faith.
Q: Many believers I’ve known go out their way to be obnoxious and invite “persecution ” in order to “feel” or appear more “righteous,” not because of being justified by faith in Christ. Agree?
A: First let’s consider some synonyms for obnoxious: loathsome, hateful, horrible, insufferable, etc. I would not consider such people to be involved in practicing their faith. I will give one example. There is a small church that goes around the country stating God hates homosexuals which is both noxious and not true for God loves all sinners including you and me. He simply does not love sin, in fact He hates sin – all sin. Nonetheless, as Christians we are God’s ambassadors as Paul made clear in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. We are committed to a message of reconciliation, not hate. Still as ambassadors we have to tell the truth about sin, but always how God loves the sinner and is waiting for the sinner to turn to Him – that is why He gave His Son for our sins.
Q: Perhaps Daniel and his friends are the best examples of a true Christian response to real persecution .
A: I don’t know if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are the best examples of a true Christian response to real persecution as they were not Christians, but Jews in exile. While living in exile under King Nebuchadnezzar they became administrators over the province of Babylon (Daniel 2:49). No problem. At least not until Nebuchadnezzar demanded they worship his idols and gods. They refused and were sentenced to die in a superheated furnace (Daniel 3:19-22). It was a punishment they accepted and they were thrown into the fire, but miraculously survived (Daniel 3:22-26). It is important to be aware though all of this they were not obnoxious, but were simply practicing their faith.
Bottom Line: How are we living? Are we living in such a way that God would say we are practicing our faith? It is not important what I would say or someone else would say, but what God would say. So, are we practicing our faith?
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton