By Peter Lee, The Exchange.
I was asked to preach at a church where I chose as my text 1 Pet. 4:12-13. Afterwards, many approached me with words of appreciation for the message. One person, however, made a comment that I have pondered since. The comment was, “Your message was difficult to apply since my life is not filled with the persecution that you spoke of.” If you are a Christian who lives in America, then you may find the words of the Apostle Peter difficult to appreciate also. After all, he describes Christians suffering due to their faith in Jesus Christ (see 1 Pet. 2:19; 3:14). Although the church in America can be described in many ways, I am not certain that “persecuted” is the one that would immediately jump out at us. At least, not when compared to the frightening reality of so many of God’s churches in other parts of the world where they follow Christ while literally fearing imprisonment, torture, even death! We find such experiences absolutely shocking and we must remember these churches regularly in our times of prayer.
The church is at war. It is impossible not to come to this realization in light of the atrocities committed against Christians throughout the world. While we should be thankful to the Lord for providing a secure place for us to grow in our spiritual disciplines, we would do well to remember that the church in America is also at war. Whether we acknowledge it or not does not change this theological fact. When we reflect on the strategies that Satan would implement against the church, we should keep in mind that the evil one is shrewd. Just as he manipulated the situation in the Garden so many millennia ago to lead God’s people astray, so he remains devious in his tactics today. Militant oppression against the church would not be effective in silencing the preaching of the gospel in our society which is already horrified by the brutality of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. This would lead to greater outcry and sympathy for the cause of the church in America.