No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.
Vice President Mike Pencetold a crowd of graduates from the Christian-based Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, that they ought to be ready for ridicule because this secular world is about as intolerant of those of the faith as can be.
There is no doubt that persecution is a stark reality of living the Christian life. Christian persecution is to be expected: the apostle Paul warned that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus said that, if they persecuted Him, they will also persecute His followers (John 15:20). Jesus made it clear that those of the world will hate Christians because the world hates Christ. If Christians were like the world—vain, earthly, sensual, and given to pleasure, wealth, and ambition—the world would not oppose us. But Christians do not belong to the world, which is why the world engages in Christian persecution (see John 15:18–19). Christians are influenced by different principles from those of the world. We are motivated by the love of God and holiness, while the world is driven by the love of sin. It is our very separation from the world that arouses the world’s animosity (1 Peter 4:3–4).
Christians must learn to recognize the value of persecution and even to rejoice in it, not in an ostentatious way but quietly and humbly because persecution has great spiritual value. First, the persecution of Christians allows them to share in a unique fellowship with the Lord. Paul outlined a number of things he had surrendered for the cause of Christ. Such losses, however, he viewed as “rubbish” (Philippians 3:8) or “dung” (KJV) that he might share in the “fellowship of [Christ’s] sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). The noble apostle even counted his chains as a grace (favor) that God had bestowed upon him (Philippians 1:7).
Second, in all truth, Christian persecution is good for believers. James argues that trials test the Christian’s faith, develop endurance in his life, and help develop maturity (James 1:2–4). As steel is tempered in the forge, trials and persecution serve to strengthen the character of believers. A Christian yielding graciously to persecution demonstrates that he is of superior quality as compared to his adversaries (see Hebrews 11:38). It’s easy to be hateful, but Christlikeness produces kindness and blessing in the face of evil opposition. Peter says of Jesus, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
Third, Christian persecution enables believers to better value the support of true friends. Conflict can bring faithful children of God together in an encouraging and supportive way they might not have known otherwise. Hardship can stimulate the Lord’s people toward a greater resolve to love and comfort one another and lift one another to the throne of grace in prayer. There’s nothing like an unpleasant incident to help us reach a greater level of brotherly love.
Even in the face of Christian persecution, we can press on. We can thank God for His grace and patience with us. We can express gratitude for those whom we love in the Lord and who stand with us in times of distress. And we can pray for those who would accuse, misuse, or abuse us (2 Corinthians 11:24; Romans 10:1).
A working definition of hate speech is “speech that is intended to insult, intimidate, or cause prejudice against a person or people based on their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, political affiliation, occupation, disability, or physical appearance.” If that is the accepted definition, a Christian should never participate in hate speech. However, the problem is that the definition of hate speech is broadening over time. Proclaiming that a certain belief is wrong or that a certain activity is sinful, based on biblical principles, is increasingly being included in the definition of hate speech.
Ephesians 4:15 refers to “speaking the truth in love.” First Peter 3:15 instructs Christians to defend their faith, but to do so “with gentleness and respect.” Colossians 4:6 proclaims, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” Sadly, some Christians fail to follow these biblical instructions. Some Christians (or at least people who claim to be Christians) speak the truth, but speak it in such a way that it is very hateful. One prominent example would be Westboro Baptist Church and its “God hates fags” slogan. Westboro Baptist Church is correct in declaring the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is sinful, but they are declaring this truth in such a way that it is intended to be incendiary, offensive, and hurtful. Needless to say, the Bible does not support such methods.
It is likely that in the near future, governments will begin declaring more speech as hate speech, thereby making it illegal. In some parts of the world, it is illegal to say that homosexuality is a sin. In some countries, it is illegal to declare one religion right and other religions wrong. This steady broadening of what qualifies as hate speech could eventually lead to any effort to evangelize being declared hate speech, since it would be “hateful” to tell a person that what he/she currently believes is incorrect.
What the perpetrators of this expanded hate speech definition fail to realize (or admit) is that to tell someone the truth is an act of love, not hate. Is it hateful for a teacher to tell a student that his/her answer is wrong? Is it hateful for a building inspector to tell a construction company that they are building on a faulty foundation? Of course, the answer to these questions is no. However, that is precisely the illogic that is being applied to current hate speech legislation. Telling someone that his/her religious views are wrong is somehow hateful. Telling someone that his/her lifestyle is immoral is somehow hateful. The logic is not, in any sense, consistent with how truth is determined in other areas of society.
Our goal is to speak the truth in love. We do not hate Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rather, we simply believe that these groups are making some serious theological and biblical errors. We do not hate homosexuals, adulterers, pornographers, transsexuals, or fornicators. Rather, we simply believe that those who commit such acts are making immoral and ungodly decisions. Telling someone that he/she is in the wrong is not hateful. In reality, refusing to tell someone the truth is what is truly hateful. Declaring the speaking of truth, presented respectfully, to be hate speech, is, in fact, the ultimate demonstration of hate.Source
It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated.
Like Joseph and Daniel of the Old Testament who served secular kings, we are called to serve everyone and help them fulfill their divine destiny. Jesus made it clear that people who want to lead or be great must be the servants of all. Serving is the way of leadership in the kingdom.
Forcing our way onto the world is not great leadership. Some accuse us of doing this very thing because we speak up on moral issues. It is important that we speak up on issues, but it’s also equally important that we love everyone no matter their persuasions.
Someday Jesus will rule the world; in the meantime, we should just serve well and let our good works speak of our Father who loves everyone.
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