Christians Must Live Boldly in the Face of Persecution
Last year, an estimated 245 million Christians were persecuted for their faith, and it’s only expected to get worse. Many have been detained, threatened, separated from family members, displaced, tortured, and even executed for their pious dedication to their theological beliefs.
Although the United States benefits from religious liberty protections, we still experience injustice. While it rarely manifests as physical violence, other avenues of hostility such as social condemnation and oppression of religious expressions have become commonplace. Even without the specter of violence, we should not allow our less-than-dangerous religious environment to breed complacency when it comes to supporting those suffering around the world. There is much for Christians to do.
Refusing to conform to society’s secular definition of culture is a critical start. In recent years, we have watched while business owners who refuse to compromise their biblical views on marriage are met with lawsuits and legal challenges and are unfairly branded as bigots. While many of the legal cases are still underway, the court of public opinion has already found these Christians guilty, along with anyone who dares speak up on their behalf.
Even when courts have ruled in support of these business owners’ right to operate within the confines of their sincerely held beliefs, special interests had already poured colossal amounts of money into smear campaigns with the goal of shifting public opinion towards a secular, non-Christian baseline.
Standing firm in the public square in defense of one’s religious convictions – even if it means financial loss or a ruined reputation – empowers Christians outside the safer borders of the United States. While decorations on a cake may seem trivial in the face of martyrdom, our shared beliefs, both in Christianity’s religious tenants and the right to freely practice our faith, provide unbreakable solidarity. A meaningful and compassionate defense, rooted in biblical truth, also weakens the cultural narrative that Christian values are archaic and need to be abandoned in order to meld with modern times.
That is why resisting the desire to relegate religion to one’s private life in order to avoid conflict or attention should be rejected, not just for those overseas placing their lives in jeopardy each time they attend a service or whisper a prayer, but because Christians are called to live boldly. The Bible says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Believers should also invest financially in organizations that work to support and create refuge for our brothers and sisters, both at home and abroad. Due to our cherished freedoms of liberty and prosperity, it is incumbent upon us to support those in need. This isn’t as simple as writing a check to a favorite international charity. Being good stewards of the wealth bestowed on our nation requires careful research, prioritizing organizations with proven track records of aiding the persecuted.
And let us not forget the all-surpassing power of prayer. Secular skeptics are quick to dismiss “thoughts and prayers” during times of national tragedy and mourning. But scripture commands us to pray. It also tells us that God reacts to our mere human prayers. 1 John 5:14 states, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” There is no human solution or government intervention stronger than the workings of almighty God.
Religious persecution, whether it be socially ostracizing, financially ruinous, or life-threatening, will always be with us. The Apostle Paul once wrote “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” But while we can’t control the world around us, we can control our response to these tribulations. That means being courageous, speaking up for our Christian values, and financially supporting our persecuted brothers and sisters across the globe.
And when the path ahead seems too difficult – the world too hostile – take spirit in the words of Christ: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
Mary Vought is the Executive Director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. You can follow her @MaryVought.