Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lives not worthy of persecution

This is a stinging indictment of the church...

In any case, how do we interpret that troubling verse in 2 Timothy: "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted"? Rather than asking whether or not persecution is feasible in western society today, maybe we should be asking why we are not being persecuted. Are we still living under the sheltering wing of a fading Christendom? Or are we simply not living as faithful disciples and so not worth persecuting? That might be the question early Anabaptists would ask us to ponder. (The Naked Anabaptist, pg. 91)

Ouch! I think there is a lot of truth to that. Perhaps our witness to the world is so paltry, so comfortably ensconced in the culture, so worldly that it doesn't raise the ire of the world sufficiently to bring about persecution. Losing the "culture wars" is not a sign of the failure of the Western church. Nor is the rise of the emerging church. The lack of persecution in the Western church is our greatest indictment.

The expectation of suffering and persecution is not a call for us to train "Christian lawyers" to defend our rights. It is a reality that believers will face but not fear. Our response is not fear and retribution, it is submission and humility and trust. Persecution and the hatred of the world are the marks of faithful ministry, not full churches and large budgets.

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra--which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Tim 3:10-13, emphasis added)

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