“I’ll sue!” I wonder if we had a national poll on establishing a new national motto if those words might be chosen to replace e Pluribus Unum. We are not only willing to sue at the drop of a hat, we’re eager to. If somebody does something wrong to us, we sue. If we think somebody does something wrong to us, we sue. When something bad happens and we don’t know who to sue, we can find a lawyer who will find the deepest pockets to sue. There are organization designed to help people who have been wronged find the right people to sue. At the same time, there are organizations that work to prevent frivolous lawsuits.
As Christians, we are very protective of our rights as Americans also. When someone does something that makes it harder for us to practice our faith, we are willing to take it to court. We must stand up for our rights or they will slowly be eroded, right? We fight laws that limit preaching; we fight laws that limit our ministry; we fight laws that limit our personal practices as Christians. We can’t believe that people would attack us the way they do. Peter warned early Christians not to be surprised when they were persecuted. If we are true to our faith, the world will send persecution. But, our persecution must be because we are true to our faith. If we are “persecuted” for being a murderer, it’s not persecution, it’s justice. “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4:16)
The gospel and government do not mix. Oh, I know that we have freedoms as Christians in our country. I know that we can use those freedoms to spread the gospel. The problem comes when we as Christians gain positions of power in the government and seek to make laws that will make evangelism a function of the government. We see how terrible it is in other countries where religion and government are comingled and people are forced to be a member of that religion or be counted a second-class citizen, if a citizen at all, or endure terrible persecution, even unto death. You end up with many nominal adherents to the faith in power and a lot of persecution to other faiths. As Christians, when we have power we find that we do similar things, even, in some cases, persecuting those of other faiths or no faith. We are not called to persecute others. We are not called to use the powers of government to spread our faith. We are called to speak truth to our government. At times, that may lead to persecution and suffering. No one likes to be told how they are wrong.
It is in the persecution, the suffering, we rejoice as followers of Christ. That can only be, though, if we stay true to our mission of proclaiming the good news of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. If we are prosecuted for crimes, or if people attack us for being busybodies or meddlers, there is no joy in that. We are called to be gracious in all we do. We are to proclaim the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ to all who will call on His name. That will make some people mad. Many don’t like the idea that they may need forgiveness. It might even make church leaders mad if they use control over the power of forgiveness to control other people. In the long run, it will cause us to be persecuted. Peter would say two things to that. Praise God that you are being persecuted for the sake of the name of Jesus and keep on proclaiming His grace and forgiveness.
Lord God, help me to remember that suffering for Your name is going to happen if I am true to You. Keep me faithful. May I always be willing to proclaim the grace and forgiveness of Jesus to others.