Saturday, November 17, 2007

Persecuted for ...

Persecution is a foreign concept for North American Christians. We have our rights and we will fight for them. Sadly these days people are thinking changing the greeting, "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays" is a sign of persecution. To this I say, "Step up to the challenge and say the words Merry Christmas and feel the heat of honest to God persecution." Meanwhile in other parts of the world persecution in real terms is taking place.

But who are being persecuted and for what is a huge topic. For example Hindus in Bangladesh are being severely persecuted with over 2.5 million being slaughtered in 1971 and 10 million fleeing that country over the past 50 years. Can’t say I’ve heard much about these atrocities.

In 1994, at least 500,000 maybe 1,000,000 ethnic Tutsis were murdered by extremist Hutus as an act of genocide in Rwanda. I’ve only heard about this travesty after the fact.

Suffice to say, persecution is not unique to any one people group. Without doubt there are people being persecuted today because of ethnicity, social status and religious beliefs. We tend to only notice when it affects something of personal value to us.

I recently heard of two Christian pastors in Russia who were put in prison for at least 6 months. In one case the pastor was fixing the sidewalk in front of his church building without a permit and the other was putting in a window of his church building without a permit. They and their families paid a big price and no doubt this is the Putin government’s signal of a new round of persecution against some forms of Christianity. Likely, some groups of Christians will applaud their government’s efforts to stamp out unruly sects.

A simple answer to this type of persecution, via harsh application of civil laws, is to simply stop using specified buildings. This was done in the past with the underground church surviving through even more severe forms of persecution. It’s iconic that a building is now so synonymous with Christian values that even the government uses it as a door through which to persecute Christians.

As a good, old fashioned Canadian, by mind can’t grapple with any persecution more severe than a condescending sneer from someone who thinks my faith is foolish. Others can’t handle my dissecting the institutional church model that is so well entrenched in society that they think it is straight from the writings of Paul. Could they easily give up their love affair with buildings if our government chose to act like the Putin government?

In all of this, it seems to me that persecution is likely going to be in our world for a while yet. It was one of the things that Jesus guaranteed (promised) would happen to Christians from time to time. Mattew 5:10 As for me, I don’t think I do well with any kind of persecution and I certainly don’t know of anyone in Canada who is being persecuted for righteousness sake. I guess our faith has even overcome what Jesus said would be inevitable for His followers.

1 comment:

Nick Hourd said...

It is interesting that we complain about 'persecution' but then give our names and addresses to the CRA or IRS, and the put a sign on the door of the building so the SS knows where to go when the time comes. Whatever happened to being wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

It seems to me that many "believers" have bought into the mentality that you need to check your brain at the door.