Indignant, bitter, angry, and vengeful: That’s the default response when things change for those who have grown accustomed to “being the boss,” always getting their way, and rarely being challenged or corrected.
After enjoying a season of privilege, protection, and dominance, the persecution of Christians and Christian ministries in the U.S.A. has slowly increased. In 1997, while leading a Campus Ministry in St. Louis, Washington University began making it more difficult for us to meet on Campus. In 2000, Tufts University was one of the first to officially ban Christian Campus Ministry Groups who had doctrinal and moral requirements for those who were on their leadership teams. Over the past 20 years, this type of persecution and ostracization has slowly increased on Campus as well as in the media, the workplace, and at the neighborhood pool.
While persecution here in the U.S.A. hasn’t reached the same levels that other Christians face in our world today (being thrown in prison, exiled, having your children removed from you, or being put to death), it has become increasingly real, normal, and accepted. All signs point to this increasing. In the U.S.A., being open that you are a Christian can mean that you lose friends, get passed over for a promotion, lose clients/business, and that you are fair game for public ridicule, shunning, bullying, and abuse. With historic, orthodox, and faithful Christianity continuing to decline in numbers, now representing only 6% of the U.S. population, we have less and less political sway to leverage for our protection.
So, how will we respond in these changing days?
This is one of the main things that 1st Peter can help us, guide us, and teach us about. The Christians that God addresses in 1st Peter were not yet experiencing imprisonment or being thrown to the lions for their faith. But their persecution and suffering was real and it was increasing.
What does God have to say to us about living for Christ in a time and place where being open about our love for Jesus Christ, our obedience to the gospel, and our faith in God is increasingly met with hostility, offense, and ridicule? What does God have to say to us when our view of sexuality is unacceptable and offensive? Will we respond with defensiveness, indignation, and anger? Will we withdraw, never reference our faith, and just quietly assimilate so we look like everyone else and don’t draw attention?
Or to reference the question I’ve been asking myself since returning form Asia: “What do I need the power of God for today?” Do I need today – am I actually asking for – the power of God to share my faith, invite someone to church, and to live and suffer freely for Christ?
For the next two Sundays, and in our Daily Worship Devotions, we’re going back to 1st Peter and will be considering God’s word to us about suffering for him. This Sunday we’ll focus on 1st Peter 3:8-18: Facing Opposition & Doing Good. I encourage you to take some time to read a little longer and reflect on 1st Peter 3:8-22 before this Sunday. Ask God to meet you and to speak to you in and through his Word.
Yours in Christ,