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Are Any of Us Being Persecuted?


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   It looks like I've started a series of topics, based on quotations from the Epistles of Paul.  Here's the next one:

   "...everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy: 3:12)

   Question:  Are there any of us members of christianwriters.com, who want to tell us if you've been, or are being persecuted in some way?

Edited by William D'Andrea
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I actually consider Americans (such as you and me) to be "spoiled" in that area.  Living in the States as we do, we're not as likely to experience Biblical persecution as our Christian brothers and sisters in, say, China for example.  Praise be to God that we don't have to experience persecution like that, but let's also be prepared: the way this country's going, I have to wonder how much longer we will enjoy our religious freedom.

 

That said, I've been "persecuted" in a small way recently.  I got back in touch with a friend I previously hadn't talked to for a year and half.  He's a very angry person, and very anti-God and anti-Christian, yet he considered me a close friend.  I tried before to witness to him, but pretty much was up against a brick wall.  More recently, we've gotten pretty in-depth during conversations over the phone, and after that I felt the need to distance myself from his negative influence.  I told him I didn't want to talk to him anymore unless it was to continue discussing God and theology, etc.  That made him very angry, but we still kind of text each other on and off.  He swears at me, insulted me (called me selfish and narcissistic person for wanting to share the truth with him), and threatened to spread lies and rumors about me to a mutual friend of ours.  Well, I told him that it wouldn't matter what he told that friend, because she is a Christian who shares my beliefs and knows what he is like.  She wouldn't believe him over me.  We're still in touch on and off and I'm still trying to get through to him.  He says he still angry, but for now, I'm really not sure where we stand with each other.

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I’m inclined to agree with you, @suspensewriter. I think Paul’s saying that persecution is extremely common and likely to occur (especially in his day,) but it should not be a cause for fear or discouragement. I don’t think he’s saying that every last believer in every place, in every age, will undergo persecution/discrimination/suffering specifically because of their faith. 

 

I know plenty of Godly people who have never had to endure this kind of persecution, and I don’t believe the lack of faith-related persecution invalidates their faith in any way.

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4 minutes ago, Zee said:

I don’t believe the lack of faith-related persecution invalidates their faith in any way.

     I'm not disagreeing with you.  I just wonder if the reason we're not being persecuted, is that we're just playing it safe?  

     That's a question.  Not an answer.

     

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I agree with Grey Skies; the way this country is going it may not be long before we are persecuted for our faith. In small ways and not so small ways, my husband and I have been persecuted for our faith. Often it is not outwardly verbal but in "avoidance," "looks" and insinuations. Jesus said that this would happen; so it is no surprise but I feel that more outward persecutions may be coming--not just for our country--but other Christian countries.

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     I think I've found an answer.  It's from the Apostle Peter:

                            xxxxxxxxx

     "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil." 

     (1 Peter 3:13-17)

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Guest Spaulding

The S family. Real people who are about to go back to a real country that really does persecute Christians to share the gospel. They're also members of our church when they're in the States. (They've been back since June and are now on their way back to their mission-home.) They could use prayers. Honest. Any and all prayers for the next year or two. 

 

We haven't been persecuted at all like the Christians were in the first two centuries. Rome had it out for them. They were killing up to 100,000 per day. Every single Christian in Alexandria was slaughtered. (And the persecution today in that area of the world isn't much better.) When the enforcers came home on chariots, they lit their way from Israel to Rome, (think about that on a map), with the bodies of believer burning on stakes. For the lead chariots, they set a Christian's head on fire and dragged it behind chariots for the lead chariot.

 

The Christians and the lions in the Coliseum? Lions don't eat when they're full. Matter of fact, it might take up to two weeks for them to get hungry again. But there they were in an enclosed space with Christian women, men, and their children. The family would watch others becoming a lion free-for-all. People they may have known. Likely they knew them fairly well too, considering what else would you do in those final days but gather together and pray for strength? (I think I'd ask for an instant kill too.) Up to two weeks and they could have renounced God at any time.

 

And Jerusalem did experience many of the symbols John saw to write Revelation. The city was laid siege. The food ran out to the point where the rats were all eaten. When the army finally broke in, they saw a woman roasting a baby on a fire. The river of blood? They killed everyone in the temple to the point that the entire temple had bodies at least four foot high. That blood trickled into the gutters. Deep enough to cover a foot. (A river.) Then they burned Jerusalem until the sky was so full, there was no sun for three days.

 

And the rest hid in caves and catacombs. (I feel terrible for them, but I do love this part of the story, since it is how the Bible came to be.) Small groups, but each group did the same thing when they found a place they could hide in for a while. They brought books (scrolls) with them. Not any old book. The best ones. The important ones. And then they divided them according to how important they were. The important ones were hidden in a place that could be found by the legends. The sacred ones were hidden deeper. Better. The thinking was that the Romans would find the first stash and burn it without thinking to look for a second. And the Romans did come and did burn that first stash as well as the people. The sacred writing came out when the persecution was over. And out of that group, Constantine formed a group of scholars to decide what belonged and what didn't.

 

The strange thing is even during persecution fakes came around. Sort of like the National Enquirer of the first century. Book of Thomas. Book of Jesus. They're still available today. BUT the rest were consistently there. The OT is a given, since it hadn't changed since Malachi joined it. But every cave and catacomb hid what we now consider the NT in the sacred writings. The only iffy one was the Book of James. That one was argued about for a millennium, but we now accept it without question.

 

Two amazing things came from that persecution:

1. The gospel was spread clear across the known world, not only by missionaries, but by people running for their lives because they could not unbelieve. (Is there a better built-in way to evangelize than to hear someone who has to believe even if it does cost his/her life? The message is that worth it.)

2. Without knowing what others were doing for over 100 years, all the Christians were still doing the same thing, and still picking God's word out of a host of books to read.

 

Despite the persecution, those are the reasons we need God's strength. Persecutions brings with it a huge reminder of why we are doing what we are doing.

 

The world disagrees with us, so yeah, sometimes it gets heated. We are very blessed if that's all the further it goes. (The Nazis tried to kill off the Christians too. Up to 19 million were killed. 6 million were Jews.) We're also to remember how far God will go to get His word to those He has chosen.

 

I like being comfortable, but one thing God never promised was comfortable. He promises His comfort, but not comfortable. He has to give me great strength if we are truly persecuted, but then again, He promised His strength too. I'm praying it doesn't get bad, but I can run down a long list of things I've prayed for, didn't get what I wanted, but benefited better because of that.

 

 

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Guest Spaulding
20 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

I don't think that the Apostle Paul means literally everyone will be persecuted, although I could be wrong.  I think he meant that metaphorically.  Not everyone suffers the kinds of persecution he was speaking of in that passage.  What do you think?

Paul wrote to people who were already being persecuted. It was in the 70s that Nero put the hammer down. It wasn't as if the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s were pleasant and then all got dark. Read Acts. Within weeks Peter and company were being tried by the Jews. Just one of the apostles died naturally. All the rest were put to death for their beliefs. Literally, every one was being persecuted.

 

As for us? I think it's like teaching a child not to get burned by the stove. It's a rare person who doesn't get burned anyway. At least we know what could happen ahead of time and how to prepare for it, if it does come.

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Several years ago, a relative asked me to he[p her daughter and two granddaughters as I could, in the event she was no longer living.  A while later, she left us, the result of a car wreck. I did the best I could to be there for her daughter. I tried to show them my life-style as a Christian. I stood by the daughter when one of her daughters went through an teen-age pregnancy. When the baby was born, all the teen-age mother's "friends" were at the hospital before I got word of the birth.

 

I noticed a lack of communication from that relative's daughter and the granddaughters. I said something to another relative who lived out of state. The answer I received was "They don't think you approve of how they live." 

 

When we were told my husband's sister (who had taken two generations of thar family to church or seen that the youngest generation had a way to get there.) was going to pass on, we called the daughter and they all came down to the hospital. The adults and older children came to the funeral.

 

That daughter passed on this past October. We received no call. 

 

I say all this to say: "YES there is persecution of Christians in this world, in this nation today. But it is subtle and sometimes personal."

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I experienced physical threats and theft while an enlisted U.S. service member in the 70s—all because perpetrators knew I was a Christian.

The current problems with harassment that followers of Christ face in the military are not new.  The blessed news is that there has always been a strong, visible witness for Christ among service members.   

Edited by Ragamuffin_John
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Although we've lived in several anti-Christian nations, my husband and I have never been persecuted in those places explicitly because of believing in Jesus (in some regions it is the "American" identity that brings manifest hatred), although there were many episodes of intimidation and marginalization. It is in the US, that we have been persecuted several times.

 

Several years ago, when we lived near Atlanta for two years, both of us were directly persecuted for following Christ by a neighbor who worshiped a dog god. He first came onto our property to go into our backyard and take a nap with our dog. We struck up a friendship with him that day, not knowing it was one of his good days. It turned out that, on his bad days, he was very belligerent towards people and was determined to commune with dogs, regardless of their owners.

 

We prayed often for him as we got to know him. Very soon we learned that he was a Vietnam veteran. We enjoyed his company, and he even came over for some meals with us- on good days.

 

Almost two years after we first met him, he came around on a particularly bad day. When he walked into the yard, I thought he seemed peaceful. I asked God for grace and went out to greet him. He began cursing at me and hurling the worst profanity and slander at the top of his lungs. At the same moment it seemed like Jesus put me in a ziplock baggy and zipped it shut ,and I stood there in amazing peace, waiting. After several minutes, the man stopped and stared at me speechlessly, looking exhausted. It seemed like the Lord then unzipped the cover and I greeted the man and encouraged him to come back some other time when we could enjoy visiting with him. He turned and left, and I turned and went back into the house and wept for him a long time with Jesus.

 

After that, our neighbor's manner began changing noticeably for the better, on both good and bad days. Sadly, about a month later he died from a heart attack. When I recall him, I hope we see him one day on the streets of gold! And I hope you, friends, are encouraged that there are wonderful ways our Lord can help us:)

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