“No one wants to kill them anymore”
This line from Sunday’s message was a bit jarring, wasn’t it? The full quotation made the point for the church in the free democracies of the Western world,
Christianity has been made so completely devoid of character that there is really nothing to persecute. The chief trouble with Christians, therefore, is that no one wants to kill them any more! Søren Kierkegaard
Freedom of religion, it is argued, has made us soft and weakened our faith, not strengthened it. I used the word “impoverished” to describe the state of the church. And so, we have something to think about concerning the lack of persecution in our culture. We have to ask why it is that no one cares that much about us. Have we simply lost our edge? No boldness anymore?
Good questions. Perhaps we are seeing the tide change and the days of Christ-followers being persecuted for the faith are coming. In that day, Lord, help us stand firm for you and for your gospel no matter the cost.
But for many, that day is already here. In countries that have oppressive regimes governing them, those who follow Jesus Christ are routinely and legally persecuted for their faith.
International Christian Concern is an advocacy ministry that speaks on behalf of persecuted believers around the world. On their website, (www.persecution.org) they make this statement:
International Christian Concern (ICC) exists to relieve the suffering of the worldwide persecuted church and help the church grow in strength and breadth by providing effective advocacy, awareness and assistance with integrity toward God and our donors. In this past century alone an estimated 200 million Christians were murdered for their faith, more than during any other century in human history. ICC acts as a bridge between believers in free countries and believers in persecuted countries by sending encouragement, prayers and aid over the bridge while bringing back news, requests and love.
Another helpful ministry and website is that of The Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.net). They state their purpose as:
Countless Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. The Voice of the Martyrs Canada stands alongside persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide. We help Christians who are, or have been, persecuted for their involvement in spreading the gospel; we love and support believers who are willing to invite their fellow men, even their persecutors, to Jesus Christ; and we encourage persecuted Christians by giving their testimony a voice, informing Christians in Canada to know how to help. Join us in raising awareness of and reaching out to the persecuted Church!
The Apostle Paul wrote from prison to the church in Colossae, “Remember my chains” (Colossians 4:18), and the preacher in Hebrews 13:3 exhorted his hearers to, “Remember those is prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body.”
From the perspective of those in prison, the former verse expresses the heart of those who are persecuted that their brothers and sisters in Christ would remember them to the Father in prayer. And what I understand their primary request to be is simply, “Pray that our faith will not fail.”
From the perspective of those who are not being persecuted, the latter verse compels us to not abandon our responsibility to care for those in the body…if “only” by making ourselves aware and with our prayers.
And we should because someday we might be the ones needing those prayers. I understand that no one wants to kill us. For now.