“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Most of you have heard by now of the horrific shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, this past Sunday, November 5th. May God grant comfort and peace to the families in that small town, a village really, who lost their loved ones when that man walked into the church and opened fire during the service, and may God rapidly heal those who still fight for life in area hospitals. I don’t intend to go through all of the details of the vicious attack on Christians during worship by a self-avowed atheist; we all as believers know what kind of evil fills this fallen world and the hearts of people. (I do however want to take a moment to thank God for the neighbor of the church who laid his own life on the line by taking his rifle, and running barefoot go to the church and shoot the murderer twice; everyone is convinced that many more would have died if he had not been a good Samaritan and intervened to try and protect his neighbors and friends.) I do want to address the general rise in anti-Christian sentiment and the persecution being perpetrated around the world. After the vile attack many took to social media expressing their shock and asking people to pray for those affected. Almost immediately they came under fire from the godless, especially in the priveleged elites, who publicly mocked the faith of the victims and attacked their beliefs in some of the ugliest and sometimes profane ways. In my mind, they are the true “Deplorables” for their heartless mockery in this heartbreaking time. But I’m not surprised in the least. Here in America, and in other developed nations, or nations that are predominently Christian, we have enjoyed decades if not a couple of centuries of peaceful practice of our faith. True, with the rise of secular humanism and more and more people rejecting even the idea of God, let alone the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it has become more common that we are mocked. Sometimes the godless resort to legal pressure to try and get Christians to violate their beliefs, such as in the Hobby Lobby legal case over abortion or the multitude of cases involving lawsuits because a Christian baker or florist refused to participate in a homosexual marriage ceremony with their products. For years Christians have been mocked and ridiculed publicly in films and on TV, and it is rarely that movies that are Christian-friendly, such as “The Case for Christ” or the new film “Let There Be Light” are produced and made. But that is really to be expected. We know from the Bible that in these last days Christians who stick to their Biblical faith will be persecuted and killed for our faith, but we mostly manage to push that thought into the future or devise un-Scriptural doctrines that conveniently make it somebody else that will be hounded to death for we won’t be here. I understand completely; I certainly don’t want to have to face imprisonment or execution in a persecution like that of Roman Emporer Diocletian at the end of the third century. But, my friends, this war against the saints has already begun, for there are Christians around the world who are being hounded and killed, often in horrible ways, for proclaiming the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ. In the Middle East ISIS rounded up many Christians in the territory they had seized and killed them, often publishing the videos of these executions online. In many parts of Asia and Africa this is happening and so few seem to notice. Even when it is talked about, the anti-Christian forces in this world mock and revile and attack, such as the backlash against Laura Ingraham for talking about global persecution and actually mentioning God on her TV show. (If you want to look further into this persecution of Christians for their faith, I suggest you get in touch with a nondenominational organization called the Voice of the Martyrs at http://www.persecution.com; I’ve checked them out and they are a good organization that works around the globe helping persecuted Christians in need.) My point is simply this, brothers and sisters: this hateful attitude of so many people toward those of us who hear and do the Word should come as no suprise, for Jesus and the apostles prophesied it 2,000 years ago. We need to cast aside the misguided assumption that we as Christians can somehow bring about global peace and tolerance and the Kingdom by our own efforts, and cling in faith to the Lord God who has promised to return and set things right. Yes, we have to go through terrible things on the way, and sadly it is only going to intensify as we get closer to return of Christ. But like the Christians of old, we must remain true to our Lord and never surrender. Jesus Christ has already won the victory, which means that we who follow Him have the victory as well. Pray, and help each other through the horrors, and never turn away from our faith. Remember our Lord’s words…look up, for our redemption draws near.
Peace and grace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.