Here is something else that has been on my mind.
I watched the documentary Love Costs Everything last week, and it really made me feel something. It was sad, and tragic, and at the same time, extremely joyous. These men and women and children lost so much, yet maintained a level of faith I can only aspire to.
It made me think about the coming day of prayer for the persecuted church, and the 24hr prayer vigil that my church does every year.
Then over the past few days I heard again and again about the terror and murder going on over on the other side of the world in Kenya and Egypt. People being shot, burned, or blown up because of how they worship, or don’t worship. They choose to love God, and serve God, even though it can cost them their lives. I think about the persecution toward God’s people–our brothers and sisters in faith–and it makes me feel like a crap sandwich about my own faith sometimes. I’ll be standing in our beautifully designed lobby with my panties in a bunch because they’re not playing songs I like during the worship service, while people are being gunned down or blown up during their own worship service.
People say there isn’t any persecution of believers in the United States, and I believe that is true, to an extent. But I also believe it could certainly come to that eventually.
I believe persecution starts with hardened hearts. I think a hardened heart toward people professing a “Christian” faith has already begun for many people.
Certainly there haven’t been people in our country persecuted to the same level of those in the middle east and other parts of the world. Yet it would be difficult to deny there was much ridicule, mockery, descrimination, and marginalization directed toward people of faith by people without. Labels such as “hater” haphazardly handed out because somewhere along the line society decided that if I do not agree with something you do or they way you do it, then that means I hate you.
It makes me think of Germany a little bit, in the early and mid-1930’s, in the way the persecution of the Jews began. It started with marginalizing them. Marginalization led to descrimination, which led to mockery (just Google some of the German newspaper cartoons and other propaganda of that time if you want to see what I mean. Mean-spirited humor was only the beginning), which eventually led to something dark and horrible that changed the face of not just Europe, but the world.
I am not saying the treatment of Christians is anything like what happened to the Jews of Europe and other parts during WWII, but I am saying it’s foolish not to believe we as a people could be headed in that direction.
Setting a group of people apart and making sure everyone knows how “different” they are is just the beginning. Who knows how long it will take, or if things actually will take the same form? It may be different. But how can anyone deny the erosion of “religious” freedom we are experiencing as a country? It may be slow, but it is surely happening, and will continue to.
I don’t really know where I’m going with all this, but I suppose I’m trying to suggest something about being prepared. It makes me think of familiar words attributed to German Pastor Martin Niemoller during the 1930’s:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
I wonder if it will come to that here? I believe it could. Whether or not it will is up to us.