Responding to persecution
My son plays guitar in a Christian rock band. So some comments on Facebook disparaging Christian music got my attention recently. And it got me thinking about persecution. Because I don’t believe the negativity and sarcasm directed at the musical genre had anything to do with the sound and everything to do with the Subject.
Christian rock is as varied in style and quality as secular rock. The only difference is in the lyrics. So the only reason that I can deduce why one would mock and denigrate it, at least one who is not opposed to secular rock, is because of the content of the message. It lifts up Christ, and for those who hate him, that’s a red flag, and a call to arms.
Okay…maybe I’m hyperbolizing a bit. I experience such a mashup of emotions when I see my faith and my Lord being ridiculed, that maintaining a balanced expression can be difficult. I feel anger at the injustice, hurt at the personal nature of it, frustration at what I see as the willful blindness of so many, and sorrow because those who persecute Jesus are missing out on all that he has procured and provided for them if they will only believe. Also joy, though not initially, because Jesus said that his followers would be persecuted and, consequently, their reward in Heaven would be great.
Those who mock Christianity probably don’t see themselves as persecutors. They’re not going door to door hauling off believers to throw them in jail for their faith, as is happening in some Communist and Muslim countries. But just as the Roman soldiers mocked and spat on Jesus when they had the opportunity, though they had not actively sought him out for persecution, so too those who make fun of Christianity are in effect spitting on him, and on his followers. That’s persecution.
And it is hatred. But I doubt they recognize that in themselves either. I’m not immune to hatred; it bubbles up in me and spills over in thoughts and words occasionally. But by God’s grace I’m in the process of drying up that spring. I could have responded to those comments with some sarcasm of my own, but the Spirit of God constrained me. Thankfully.
So what should a response to persecution that springs from love look like? I see three biblical figures: John the Baptist calling out to the crowds to repent,1 the apostle Paul teaching and reasoning with the people to really consider what they profess to believe,2 and Jesus looking down from the cross asking his Father to forgive those who crucified him.3
And then I see a group of disciples being instructed by Christ to “shake the dust” from their feet when they leave a town that refused their message, as a judgment against them.4
Expose the need. Share the truth. Speak and act in love. And when rejected…move on.
1 Matthew 3:1-2
2 Acts 17
3 Luke 23:34
4 Matthew 10:14-15