Pastor's Blog

Right now, there are fellow Christians elsewhere in the world suffering for their faith.  Having committed no evil worthy of punishment, they find themselves in prison.  Many were betrayed by friends who were bribed or threatened to testify against them.  The accusations were pretzel-twisted distortions of the accused’s writings or conversations, bent unrecognizably into things he never said.  The accused’s defense in court, no matter how well prepared or how logical or how true, means nothing.  The guilty verdict was decided before he was arrested.

The trial was just a farce played out publicly so that the complicit media had a headline and a video clip to put on the news, demonstrating that the “criminal” had an opportunity for vindication, but failed to make his case. 

We imagine that people imprisoned falsely might appeal their cases to get justice.  But to whom?  Those that convicted them unjustly in the first place? 

Confinement in prison is bad enough.  People convicted falsely are tortured by their own heads as they try to make sense every day of the injustice that happened to them.  Surely there was a mistake.  Surely something was misunderstood.  Surely someone can fix this.  These thoughts go around in their heads and go nowhere.  There is nothing to be done but endure the sentence for ten or twenty years or more.  Ten or twenty years of one’s adult life lost and gone.  And for what?

Here in the West, we can’t imagine that people in power could be that evil or that a nation’s justice system could be that corrupt.  But they can be, and they are.

It couldn’t happen here in America, we tell ourselves.  But it is on its way to happening here.  We are watching it strut onto the stage, boldly, proudly, naked and unashamed.  And half of America marvels at the magnificence of the emperor’s ensemble while the rest of us look on in confused bewilderment at the emperor’s nakedness.

Some have expressed that I preach about politics too much and that my concerns about persecution are unwarranted.  That America is God’s chosen nation and can’t possibly fall.  The Jews thought the same thing (and with better reason).  But God sent Babylon and later Rome to tear down the Temple and lay bare the Jews’ erroneous belief.

I’ve been told that we can’t suffer persecution because Jesus promised to rapture us away so we wouldn’t suffer.  But the last thing Jesus said to his apostles was this:  “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16.33).  That looks like a promise of suffering to me.

And I’ve been told that my concerns are unwarranted because our attitude should be “God’s got this!  Amen?”  I somehow can’t imagine visiting an imprisoned Christian in Iran or China, flashing a big smile, shooting a big thumbs-up, and saying cheerily, “God’s got this, bro!  Amen?” and then walking away to freedom as his cell door slams shut and the lock clicks.

Nor can I imagine standing at the foot of Jesus’ cross and uttering the same words.

Life must be lived in the real world, not romantically on a stained-glass window.  Otherwise a rock is bound to shatter your halo one of these days.

Politics are unavoidable and are dismissed to our peril.  Politics form the backdrop against which people live, and the stories of Joseph, Daniel, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles make little sense apart from their political backdrops.  Our story doesn’t either.  Politics must be given its place in the story.  But I am preaching, not about the politics, but about the pressures being pushed upon us by the political world to compromise the truth.  And I am trying to push us in the opposite direction.  We dare not compromise the truth.

Jesus told Pilate before going to be flogged, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world:  to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18.37)

If you have heard His voice, you are of the truth, and called to stand for it, defend it, and represent it in the face of the lies.  Stubbornly and without apology.  Because that is who we are and who we must be. 

That is what I am preaching…

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