I’ve been so frustrated and disappointed with American conservative Christians the past few years because of their persecution complex. There’s almost a huffiness in their attitude, a “How could anyone possibly criticize or reject us? What’s there not to like about Christians?” sort of posture. Well, there’s plenty not to like when Christians are hypocritical, and we all are at times, aren’t we? And when Christians get hateful online defending Christianity ( the most oxymoronic thing). And when Christian leaders are conspicuous consumers, living ostentatiously comfortable lives. And when Christians defend the indefensible words and behavior of the president they elected just because he supports their political agenda. There’s plenty to criticize and we should be our first and fiercest critics.
But our role model didn’t act this way, and He had more reason than we, by far, to be offended. His behavior when He was betrayed and killed teaches us how to act when we are persecuted. He was rejected but didn’t react with bruised pride. He was despised but didn’t retaliate with hate. He was offended but He did not get defensive. He never demanded His rights, thank God.
We can’t either. He has set the standard for us. What CAN we do? We can be so secure in the love of God that we don’t need any person’s love or approval. We can show unexplainable forgiveness when we are hurt or rejected. We can put on the armor of God so we are not so easily offended. And we can defend the rights of others. Sometimes that will defend ours, too, as when we demand the right to freedom of religion and freedom from governmental coercion to violate one’s conscience. But we have to grant that to all people and all religions. We cannot expect or demand exceptions for Christianity.
Remember what Jesus said? “Blessed are you when people insult you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Matt. 5:11-12) “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22 “In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) These words seem to be unknown to the Christians demanding respect and accommodations. We are to expect the world to oppose us. And the implication is piercing: if we receive no insults and are not hated and have no troubles in the world, can we truly be followers of Christ? How can we expect to be treated so much better than the Son of God?
Let us live in peace with others as much as possible, but let us not expect a comfortable earthly existence. God has not promised us that, but He has promised us this: “I have overcome the world.”