Persecution or Poor Elocution?
(this is a) PREFACE:
Today’s synchro-blog on “Persecution and Christian Suffering” was inspired by a series of awful events. One of our fellow synchro-bloggers, David Fisher, was recently removed from the leadership at his church, mostly on the basis of David’s links within, and his writing in the blogosphere about the need for church-reform. I’m cheering David on, knowing that he’s still taking risks to live simply and missionally, despite the pain of being misunderstood by those who are supposed to be as family.
I can remember being fifteen and feeling like a dork because I was trying to follow Jesus in a public high school. Sometimes I’d get together with my Christian cronies and talk about how we were being “persecuted for Jesus.” If someone laughed at us, we could throw around the “p” word and it’d make us feel better.
A few weeks ago I got in heated discussion with a friend about gay rights. He was sure that to contend and fight that “homosexuality is a sin!” would get one “persecuted.” He insisted that we shouldn’t care about political correctness, and that in fact, Jesus promised we’d be persecuted! I bled out a snappy-reply, to the effect of, “that doesn’t make you persecuted, that just makes you ignorant.” My frustration turned to sadness when I shared through my tears about my gay friends who’ve been more bruised and beaten by the Church than any others. And how our pointy-fingers get in the way of introducing the real Jesus to people just as broken as we. And why don’t we just as vehemently jump up and down and formulate legislation for our sick sins of greed, lust, and selfishness?
I think that we in the West have a penchant for playing the victim. And we as Christians play the victim the worst when we throw around the word, “persecution,” as if it’s a holy trophy. Without undermining the legitimate suffering that many have felt for the Name of Jesus in the West, I confess for all of us that all too often, our elocution concerning persecution is way off. And our poor use of language is a type of a curse towards those hundreds of thousands who are daily being tortured, beaten, and imprisoned for the Name.
I can remember being in Carpinteria for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, and praying with Elise and Sarah for feeling to return to the Western church, that our comfortable numbness would die and that we’d really feel the pain that so many others in the Body feel. If only we were more connected somehow, we could really learn from each other about suffering.
Today when I read the story of a young Chinese woman on Prisoner Alert (Voice of the Martyrs), something was stirred in me. She has been imprisoned in China since 2001 for being the editor of an underground church magazine. A young woman following Jesus, trying to make words fit nicely in print. Thrown in jail, as a writer.
With a few clicks, a printer, and some stamps, Prisoner Alert helped me write an encouraging letter to the young woman, even translating it into the characters of her native tongue. As I wrote, “You are counted worthy to suffer for His name,” some of the numbness left me, and I cried. But rather than seeing her as a victim, these were victory tears. For her and for Him. And even, for me, as I feel slightly more connected to my Body.
The young lady’s mother reported that the prison warden has asked, “Do you have many relatives in America?” Because of this simple site, thousands of encouraging notes have been sent to her over the last 6 years, and countless prayers surround her. There are many others like her. Check out Prisoner Alert and take a minute to send an encouraging letter to someone imprisoned for the Name, to pray for them, and even send an email to a government official asking for their release.
And don’t forget to check out the other synchrobloggers below…
(Clown Image HT: Peskymac)