It’s been easy for me to get discouraged lately. I read the news and watch the holy ordinance of marriage attacked by a godless society. I read further and discover that religious discrimination is thriving in New York. There, it is not only lawful to deny churches the ability to rent public school space for worship, but it is mandatory – punishable by heavy fines. Yes, in New York, it is a state mandate to discriminate against Christians! At the same time Christian organizations are being forced to go against their biblical convictions regarding abortion. Faith based companies are being forced to pay for healthcare that provides coverage for contraceptives including the abortion pill – deceptively labeled “emergency contraceptive.” Don’t be misled. This is not just an attack on Catholic hospitals. This creates a problem for ALL faith based organizations.
Do you see why it easy for me to get discouraged? Followers of Christ, we can not ignore this! But we must also not be defeated in our minds and hearts. Jesus said “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Do not be overwhelmed by this temporary suffering. God is not mocked! Christian, do not lose heart. Jesus has overcome the world. This world is only our temporary home. Our victory, in Christ, is certain and eternal!
For a long time in the United States, we have heard and even joined the mantra “God and Country.” Somewhere along the way this changed. While we were looking the other direction, our Country has declared itself to be god. Now, it seems the government tells the church what is right and what is wrong. The government has made it clear that it has no use for God or His church. Our most treasured freedom is being dismantled. Freedom of Religion and the free exercise thereof, has no meaning if our government mandates when, where, how, and to what extend the Church may practice Biblical teachings.
To the Christ followers in America this is unfathomable! However, Christians all over the world and all throughout history have faced oppressions far greater than these – Yet They Stand!
My heart is heavy that these circumstances seem so dark. Maybe you are fighting the same sense of gloom in your spirit. Take heart – Be encouraged. I find clear instruction and abundant encouragement from the following words in Eugene Peterson’s The Message; from Ephesians 6:10-18
A Fight to the Finish
10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
Because the trials of this life never take a time-out, because the world’s bombardment against Christianity never takes a break, we can not abandon the struggle. I encourage you to pick up His banner and serve within your churches in community. Serve outside the churches; everywhere you are. Stand up for what is good. Let Peter’s words guide us daily as we seek to love those who hate the God we serve.
13And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:13-17