Just about every day this year a dear friend posts a message on Facebook. It is the same message reminding us that 482 Christians will die as martyrs that day. Today’s message brings the total to “175930 believers who died this year because they claimed Jesus Christ the Lord of heaven and earth as their Savior!” Most if not all of these men, women, and children, do not live in the United States.
One reason we do not suffer religious persecution in our land is because of our Constitutional freedom of religion. We do not live in a theocracy where people of faiths other than that of the state fear for their lives. Nevertheless, there are Christians in our land who do claim they are persecuted. Some of the culprits over the years include:
Removal of the Ten Commandments from public buildings
Removal of prayer from public schools
Removal of nativity scenes from government sites
Removal of the name “Christ” from Christmas and replacement with an “X”
Removal of the word “Christmas” from public school concerts and replacement with the word “Winter”
I wonder if these are the things that get our brethren in trouble in persecuted lands like China, Iraq, Iran, India, and Vietnam? I wonder if the 482 will die because they insisted on building a nativity scene in front of the town hall of Papua New Guinea? I wonder how many Christian schoolchildren in Myanmar will die today because they drew a cross in crayon on their book cover?
Somehow I think our view of persecution in this country is a bit skewed. We do not realize that the 482 will die simply because they are Christians who are unwilling to renounce, forsake, or disassociate themselves from Jesus Christ. Many of them have no church membership, no affinity to a particular denomination, or any outward symbol or garb to which they affix themselves. They simply don’t exist. No, these folks have a passionate, real, unwavering relationship with Jesus Christ. He is their savior and Lord. They do not fear death because they have already passed from death to life in Him. They know they will live forever with Him in glory as resurrected saints. What happens to them in this life is of no thought or consequence to them as long as what is happening includes their faithful witness and discipleship of God’s gospel.
They are willing to die for the Way and the Truth and the Life which only Jesus gives. There is nothing manmade about it.
The Christian mythology which we fight so hard for in this country does not bring persecution because we fight for the maintenance of our idols. When we turn and fight for the truth, then perhaps we will experience the joy of suffering with our 482 brothers and sisters.