Who would have thought, less than ten years ago, that Christians in the West would be persecuted. Yet in England, nurses and doctors are facing dismissal if they so much as suggest that they say a prayer with a patient; in Britain and America people are fined and successfully sued for refusing to host gay weddings or to photograph them. In Sweden a couple can have their children taken from them permanently and put into foster homes if they spank them.
And now South Africa Christians are suffering just as much and the battle is poised to escalate. Many will have heard of the investigation of Joshua Generation Church by the Human Rights Commission because Andrew Selley, their pastor taught that part of disciplining a child could include spanking. Have you heard, though of the pastor who is currently under sentence and receiving “corrective” education because he offered a ministry in his church for gay people to be set free (run by an ex-gay person who is, himself, persecuted by the LBGT community)? Or of the owners of hosting facilities who were taken to court for refusing to host a gay wedding? Or owners of a guest house who were sued for turning down a gay couple who wanted to share a room in their guest house?
Whether or not you think they were right in their actions, one cannot deny that their freedom to act according to their faith was eroded.
There is a mighty shaking happening worldwide. God is about to purify His church in preparation for His return. As we move closer to that great event, we are experiencing what His Word foretold: that persecution of His people will intensify. Some respond by throwing up their hands resignedly (and apathetically) and submitting to the worldly bullying as God’s will for the End Times. Others respond with venom, becoming aggressively indignant at the treatment. Others, sadly, compromise to avoid the trauma.
Yet there is another way — the way of faithful engagement, like Jesus. As Jesus strode through Satan’s territory with majestic humility, He used the weapons of truth and grace to demolish strongholds, actively engaging, yet trusting His Father to complete His mission on earth. While the erosions on the freedom of the Church in South Africa and the West is minor in comparison to the horrific treatment of the Christians at the hands of the Islamic State and Boko Haram, it is our test for these times. Will we stand firm on the principles of God’s Word or compromise? Will we take action or sit back and wait till we are surprised by our lack of freedom?
As the Body of Christ this involves us all. We can stand firm on the truth. We can support those who are on the frontline of these attacks by writing to them and encouraging them. We can support them financially and let our views be known through the media and among our friends. An attack on the principles of God as laid out in His Word is an attack on all His people, not just those in the trenches. At the risk of facing persecution ourselves, we should refuse to compromise the truth while maintaining an attitude of graciousness to those opposing us and, of course praying for them.