For those of us in the Christian faith community (Protestant, Evangelical and Catholic) hate and suspicion of our faith has become the new normal. Christians and conservatives (even non-religious conservatives) are now the only group left on the planet that is okay to hate, abuse or humiliate. Hostility towards Christians is not a new thing (Luke 21:17, 1st John 3:13-14). Therefore, we should not be surprised by recent developments. That said, Christians do need to know how to navigate the new normal. Following are five things Christians can and should do as persecution and hatred of Christians intensifies.
There are some church people who are a bit overeager when it comes to getting and keeping others on the straight and narrow. Church people forget sometimes that correction is best done in the context of relationship and should NEVER be attempted on church visitors or strangers. Period. It does not matter what the person is wearing or how many piercings or tattoos these folks happen to have. The only truly loving thing to do when someone shows up at church is to celebrate the fact that they are attempting to connect with God on some level. Their appearance (even if it’s inappropriate) should be irrelevant (Luke 15:15-31).
Smart people everywhere should lay awake at night wondering why there are so many individuals who become so utterly unhinged at the mere thought that an acquaintance, relative, neighbor or stranger on-line might disagree with their political opinions.
There are sins that (thankfully) seem to be unique to a few (seriously creepy) individuals. We might joke about murder. However, few of us actually kill people. Even fewer people joke about cannibalism, human sacrifice or most of the sins listed in Leviticus chapter twenty. Thankfully even fewer people commit those sins (if they do I choose to remain blissfully ignorant).
I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but at this point I was beginning to get an inkling that “Tom” was not seeking to understand or to be understood. He simply wanted to back me into corner and force me to call him evil.
I wasn’t in the mood to bite at that hook so I simply informed him he was wrong rather than evil and that there was a huge difference between being evil and wrong. Needless to say, things did not end well and “Tom” and I did not become “friends” on social media
A speaker recently blew my mind and forced me to modify my thinking on a whole slew of issues when he pointed out that nowhere in the book of Acts will we find an example of a Christian praying for their personal safety or protection. Instead early Christians prayed continually for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit’s power so they could do what God had called them to do (convert a culture and glorify God). We would do well to follow their lead.
This myth is the stuff of fairy tales and is at the root of every other lie we believe about marriage. This myth implies that there is only one person who is suited to each of us and finding that one person guarantees a blissful union. Hard work, personal responsibility and commitment to personal growth are not a big part of the “right one” mythology. Some spiritualize the myth by telling themselves that if they aren’t happy “they didn’t find the one God had for them”.
Anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time (like me) knows that Christians are strongly cautioned against worrying about things they cannot control (Luke 12:22-29). That said, anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time also knows that even for people who are not excessive worriers there are times in life when it is far easier to recite Bible verses forbidding worry than it is to obey said verses.
I am keenly aware that in the grand scheme of life and eternity none of my problems are all that significant. I have a roof over my head, a solid marriage, healthy children, a relationship with God and some close friends that I trust. In other words, all the stuff that really matters in this life is still okay in my world.
However, knowing all that did not stop me from wallowing around in negativity like a pig in the mud. I spent the better part of a day making terrible dietary choices and feeling sorry for my pathetic self.
By far, the nastiest and most damaging form of church hurt comes at the hands of so-called shepherds (Isaiah 56:11). False teachers, who use and abuse their spiritual authority to control, manipulate, defraud or sexually exploit those they have been tasked with caring for.