The Antidote to the Coming Persecution

I hope that title doesn’t seem too negative. Who knows, maybe God will turn the hearts of our nation and we won’t face the intense persecution that looks to be heading our way. But maybe we will….

Evangelical Christians here in America are wondering what life is going to look like when the other shoe drops and the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage. Many pastors and Christian leaders are envisioning themselves in prison for taking a old stance on homosexuality. I’ve even considered this question in the past—would I go to jail for my stance on this issue?

But as I’ve thought through this more I realize that this isn’t 1600s England and a jail sentence for every believer—or even every pastor—who does not subscribe to same sex marriage is not even feasible. Sure, it’s possible that the most vocal of detractors might find themselves behind bars for hate crimes, but the sheer logistics of it makes me think that most of us won’t be doing time.

Instead the type of persecution that I see playing out will be something similar to what the “scattered exiles” were facing in 1 Peter. The type of persecution that they faced wasn’t so much the beat you with rods, execute you, and throw  you into prison. There was persecution like that in the Roman empire but most of that type was local. Their persecution was more about social ostracization.

I’m not saying that acceptance or rejection of gay marriage is the mark of the beast—but the type of persecution I envision is something similar to what we read of in Revelation 13:

[16] Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, [17] so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. (Revelation 13:16-17 ESV)

Just as emperor worship (and all that came with being a good Roman citizen) was the litmus test to Peter’s audience so will be acceptance of the new sexual mores in our culture. If you don’t fall in line then you’ll be ostracized. Just as those in Peter’s day would lose the great privileges of Roman citizenship so too we will lose many of the privileges of living in America.

The Antidote

1 Peter is a vital letter for us to read in the coming days. It is here that we find help in enduring such persecution. Peter really makes two major points throughout this letter; namely, Jesus is all you need and this isn’t your home.

Because Jesus is enough and because the new Jerusalem is our happy home, we are encouraged by Peter to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13). This is where we are to fix our eyes.

Certain things result from having our eyes fixed in the right place:

Because Jesus is our home we have an inheritance that nobody can touch and so we don’t have to fight as if this world is all that we’ve got.  (1 Peter 1:3-12, 3:8-22)

Because Jesus is our home we have an immovable standard and we don’t have to capitulate to the fallen inclinations of a wrecked world. (1 Peter 1:13-21, 2:11-12, 4:1-11)

Because Jesus is our home we have an indestructible bond to our brothers and sisters in Christ and we will never be ultimately alone. (1 Peter 1:22)

Because Jesus is our home we can humbly and lovingly serve even foolish people for the glory of God. (1 Peter 2:13—3:7)

Because Jesus is our home we can even rejoice with joy unthinkable in the midst of intense suffering and so “entrust our souls to a faithful Creator while doing good”. (1 Peter 4:12-19)

Because Jesus is our home we don’t have to cower in fear and spend our time encouraging people to stock up on toilet paper and refried beans, instead we can faithfully shepherd the flock of God to joyfully and missionally respond to persecution. (1 Peter 5:1-11)

In sum, God has dominion forever and ever. Things might be a little more difficult in the coming days, but Jesus is our happy home and nothing can steal that away.

Photo source: here

One Comment

  1. There will certainly be social ostracization, but there will also likely be legal and financial penalties that will be burdensome. Canadian Christians have been so shut up that evangelism is unheard of. I can see us in Christian ghettos in the future almost like blacks in a pre-civil-rights situation. We may not be relegated to service jobs per se, but we will be required to check our beliefs at the doors of most workplaces or be fired. Churches and pastors will be taxed to the hilt such that only certain sized churches or house churches will be financially viable. The benefit is that we will have children who will understand that the commitment we make to Christ is evident such that they will be motivated to follow him against the larger culture as well. The challenge will be to find ways to proclaim the gospel to our unbelieving society. In this we could take our cues from the churches in the Middle East or China. Our brothers and sisters there are ministering mightily in a culture that relegates them to relative servitude.

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