Thoughts After Being With Persecuted Christians

Blurring the Lines

Blurring the lines:I am writing this as an observation not a reaction. Having come back from my second mission trip to ***** I can not help but examine and question my Christian walk. Being around a persecuted people you clearly see what it means to have religious freedom and how certain freedoms are just plain taken for granted.

Here is the observation that was so clear to me. No one is going to be persecuted for something they do not believe. So will a person make a decision as to whether they will align with a belief that will obviously bring them mistreatment or not? Will they stand with a belief that will bring them all manners of persecution?

It was so encouraging to be around a people who have made a decision to stand no matter what the consequence for Christ. Everyday they know their government could penalize them in some way for their belief. Coming back to the USA I could see how much we really do take for granted our religious freedom. Here, because of religious freedom, no one ever has to know my beliefs. We can just stay quiet and blend in so as to never bring attention to ourselves and suffer from any discomfort for being Christian. Even as I write this I am reminded how much, having been raised in such freedom, I take it for granted.

Let’s define this concept “To Take For Granted”. It means you fail to properly appreciate someone or something, usually due to over familiarity, to give little attention to or under estimate the value of something or someone. Of course the irony is, it is usually not seen or known till it's gone and only then recognized, it was “taken for granted”.  Freedom has a way of allowing you to not pay attention to things slowly being taken from you. We need to see here in the USA our Christianity is slowly being eroded away, it is slowly becoming not politically correct to say what you believe in your Christian faith. If you stand up too strong then you are infringing on someone else's rights. There is a guard being placed on public dialogue as to whether what you did or said was too far in your Christian faith. You have to measure what you say before you say it to make sure it's safe to say.

Again having just come back from a persecuted people, this does not exist. There is a clear line drawn. You either are a Christian and with it all the ramifications this will bring, or you are not Christian, so no worries. Not being a Christian you are free to say whatever you want to say, just not against the government. Standing up for Jesus is seen as an act against the government. It is an opposing philosophy to their government. Only the government has the absolute right to say what is right and what is wrong and if it went against the government or not.

It is funny how here in the USA this is actually happening right in front of every Christian's eyes. Christians are being told what they can and can not say, what is acceptable according to political correctness, but not necessarily what the Bible states. We are still allowed to say certain things, but this is not according to our rights under religious freedom, rather according to the voice of the groups who are really opposed to Christianity.  Therefore many Christians just dummy down and become silent. They are completely intimidated by the poll of public opinion and the voice of a crowd who do not want you to express your Christian belief. Because of religious freedom I can choose not to say anything so as not to offend anyone or   not to bring any uncomfortable heat into my life. Let’s look at this, there are places where laws are trying to be formed so certain Christian thoughts or beliefs will not be allowed to be expressed. Because they are actively getting laws in some places to agree with this view, it really is a form of government oppression.

My point is this, shouldn't we as Christians be  concerned that maybe we are taking things for granted? Could it be one day our religious freedom is gone and we really did not know it until it was taken from us? Then we will say we should have stood up for our freedoms. I certainly hope not.  I'm not harping on our rights as individuals in this country, but challenging us to look at an obvious line.

In the country I came back from the line is clear. You either are a Christian or you are not. If you are, then you stand up for it because whether you stand up or not you are still going to incur the same persecution. So being a Christian that doesn't want to rock the boat, or just keeping to themselves and being quiet about their faith will still bring them persecution if found out. The group I work with have had their property taken, their lives threatened, their families threatened, and have been put in jail. Yet they stand up and not only admit their christian life but heartily express as much as possible to any they can in hopes of seeing them saved and added into God’s Kingdom plans.

Here in the USA the lines seem a bit blurry. Because of our freedom we can believe what we want and when we want. Depending on our agendas or comfort level we can just move the line when it is convenient. I'm not just throwing rocks at others because I am just as guilty. I know here in the USA we have people just making up whatever version of Christianity they want. The scary version is they are the ones in charge of the agenda. They just move the line wherever they want  to suit their needs or agenda. Churches just keep moving lines to suit or keep their members content or happy.

Paul warned of finding teachers who tickle our ears, to paraphrase, they teach us what we want to hear. If we do not like what we hear then we find someone to teach us what we like to hear. We have this kind of freedom. Yet here is what we need to understand, Jesus only had one standard, He drew the line and only Jesus can move the line. We are either a follower of Him and His standard, which His Words in the Bible clearly lays out or we have a version that's more suitable to us. We have come up with our own version in how we will follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

As a boy I remember two people would square off with each other. One would take his foot and make a line and state "I dare you to cross this line". If one did cross the line the fight was on. In Christianity today there is a line. It's a line that has always been there since Jesus drew it into the foundation of mankind with His blood. We know as Christians there is a real enemy. I don't think you could find a Christian who does not know there is a devil, and this devil hates everything Jesus stood for and everything He did and all He gave to mankind. When we call ourselves a Christian it is to say we are on one side of the line that is against this enemy. We oppose everything on the enemy's side of the line. To cross that line no matter the reason, puts you on the enemy’s side. We can move the line and try to justify this action but it still puts us on the enemy’s side.

Now coming back to my own life upon returning from a country where there are no freedoms of rights in their Christian belief, makes me 1. So appreciative of the freedoms I have here in the USA. I am so so very thankful. 2. I am examining my own life with the clear line Jesus made. I am looking at not just my beliefs but more importantly the practice of how I believe them. I want to make sure I have not  possibly come up with my own version of what's acceptable or comfortable to me. Instead I am challenging anything that doesn't come up to His line and putting my life on the right side of the line with its right practices. This is an ongoing work for me. But Paul stated He runs the race in a way as to win and not find himself disqualified. He also stated to test yourself to see if your in the faith lest you be disqualified. So it is possible to come up short. I can only speak for myself but I want to test myself and every so often test myself again, always with my eye on the prize. I want to live where the line really is and not form a line of my choosing

 I would like to end by challenging all who actually finished reading this article to examine yourself. Let’s evaluate our lives in Him and use the freedoms we have for the establishing of His Kingdom. Check yourself in how you believe. Do you know where His line is in your own life? Is Jesus really still Lord of your life? Be aware of your right to stand up and not be told to shut up. You do not have to sit back because public opinion says you do. Your religious freedom gives you the right to stand up and make it as vocal as you want too. If not for yourself than for the next generation in hopes of showing them their God given right to religious freedom. Let’s be counted among those that want to hold to a line and help future Christians know with certainty where the line in Him is drawn and how it should be practiced.  

Kim Carroll