Christian Persecution

by Matt Ward

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake...” (Matthew 5:10).

The Bible tells us that persecution will be the experience of those who have Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior despite what the prosperity teachers tell us (2 Tim.3:12). For many Christians in this world today persecution is real, brutal and deadly serious where their very lives are at stake on a daily basis.

The Bible is replete with warnings that living as a Christian will be difficult and for many it has proven to be deadly. In more than 50 nations of our world today it is illegal to just be a Christian. It is illegal to own a Bible, to preach Jesus Christ, to change your faith to Christianity; especially from Islam and to teach one’s children about salvation in Jesus.

Those who continue to live in this way despite government edict or severe pressure face harassment, arrest, torture and even death. Aside from these 50 nations, in another 139 countries of the world today Christians are classified as being “under severe threat or persecution.”

Even countries that at one time hosted thriving Christian communities are now becoming significantly more hostile toward Christianity. One example of this is Turkey, which a short time ago had a Christian population totaling 32% of it electorate. Today it is 0.15%. Christians are systematically and methodically being eradicated from many countries in the world today.

The fact that we in the West can walk to church on a Sunday morning relatively unbothered is the exception in the world, not the norm. In fact, it is true to say that Christians have become the most persecuted group on earth in 2014-2015.

Our future in Jesus is indeed a glorious one beyond compare but until we meet Him through death or the Rapture our destiny on this earth is one which will increasingly include suffering and persecution. As the end time’s birth pangs increase, so will Christian persecution.

The examples of this worldwide are truly overwhelming.

The Middle East is witnessing a whole scale slaughter of Christian’s unseen since the era of the Crusades in the 10th and 11th centuries.Entire Christian cultures which have previously existed for centuries are being wiped out, especially in Iraq and areas of Syria under the control of the Islamic State. The barbarity of these attacks have shocked everyone exposed to them, which include decapitating young children and putting their heads on spikes simply because their parents are Christians. This type of barbarism is not generally reported in the media.

Indeed, one of the most upsetting yet inspirational news items of last year occurred last month in December 2014, when four Iraqi youth under the age of fifteen were decapitated by ISIS because they refused to convert to Islam. The reason they refused was that, “they loved Jesus” too much.[1] This is not an isolated example.

Today in February 2015, for the first time in 1600 years there are no Christians living in Mosul or in almost the entirety of northern Iraq. [2] ISIS are following through on their stated goals and soon the vast swathe of land that they control will be entirely Christian free. What is perhaps equally as shocking is the gross underreporting that is taking place amongst the world’s media.

Persecution of Christians in 2014-15 is not confined to areas of obvious chaos such as Iraq and Syria. Open and brazen persecution of Christians is taking place in countries that are supposed to operate under the rule of well-established legal systems.

In Pakistan, in November 2014 for example, a mob burnt to death Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24 who were bundled into a hot kiln for the crime of burning verses of the Koran. Both husband and wife had their legs broken so that they could not run away. President Obama, though made aware of this issue did not even bother to issue a press release condemning this crime. Shama Bibi was also heavily pregnant at the time. Both were Christians. [3]

France in the last few weeks of 2014 and first few weeks of 2015 have decided to cede sovereignty in over seven hundred “no-go” areas to large Muslims communities. Areas where the French police do not patrol and where Sharia Law is the law that governs, not French judicial law. This retreat from confronting issues involving radical Islam has led to a literal explosion of hate crimes against Jews and Christians. This attitude led to the recent Charlie Hebdo massacres in Paris, and France is now witnessing a real life fast exodus of Jews undertaking Aliyah to Israel.

Boko Haram, in Africa are running rampage through well-established nation states like Nigeria, butchering entire villages. [4] Boko Haram’s primary targets are not Muslims, they are Christians, something again vastly under reported in Western media.

Closer to home in America and Europe the shadows of persecution are starting to crawl deeper down our own horizons. Creeping domestic legislation will soon effectively criminalize the Christian faith, meaning that believers in Jesus will have to choose between obeying the law or standing with their Bibles, and all under the guise of “political correctness.”

What makes this all the more perverse is that this criminalization of Christianity in the West is “…being perpetrated under the rubric of promoting tolerance and equality, but only toward approved groups.” [5] America currently very aptly falls into this category.

Prophetically, the Bible is clear that persecution is the future for the church in the run up to the end of the age, abroad and at home. As with ever increasing birth pangs the current persecution is the beginning of an ever increasing trend that is going to lead directly to the Tribulation period.

Those of us who love Jesus will experience persecution because it is the very cross of Jesus that we look toward with such hope for our salvation; that is what separates us so deeply from this world (John 15:18-21).

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).

If you believe in Jesus, you are not of this world and the world will hate you for it.

True believers will also increasingly experience persecution because mainline churches are currently led by compromising leaders who do not love the truth as they ought (John 12: 42-44). And Jesus also plainly tells us that His true church will experience persecution because as His followers we will share in his suffering and in His promises.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).

Our immediate prophetic future on this earth is one that does involve suffering.

“And you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22).

“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:10, 12-13).

It is this very suffering, abhorrent and appalling though it is, that convicts the world of sin through our witness to Jesus.

“…they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them” (Luke 21:12-13).

Ultimately God is in control. In control of all circumstances and all situations and our mission is to stand with Jesus in these last days, even in the midst of the raging storm and to simply be a witness.

Christian persecution is real and it is burgeoning, but there is hope and that hope is found in Jesus Christ alone.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:12-14a).

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Endnotes

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2871508/Four-young-Christians-brutally-beheaded-ISIS-Iraq-refusing-convert-Islam-says-Vicar-Baghdad-Canon-Andrew- White.html

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-01/moore-why-dont-we-hear-about-persecuted- christians/5641390

[3] http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5005/muslim-persecution-of-christians-november- 2014

[4] http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/01/28/baga-survivors-haunted-by-horror-of-boko-haram-massacre/

[5] http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=4321

http://www.raptureready.com/soap2/ward10.html