No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: Perseverance

We are not called to be John McClane


john-mcclane-loved-characters

 

There is a dialogue taking place in churches after the shooting in Sutherland Springs.  This conversation is focused on church security and protecting members of the congregation.  Many in church leadership are calling for a review of how churches can provide a more secure environment.  The topic of security is not new and has continued to gain momentum since the Charleston shooting in 2016.

That emotion is easy to understand.  We are seeing a trend of churches being attacked, and with the last one in Sutherland Springs, they are becoming more deadly.  So much so, that there are now calls for armed security at churches.  Is this how we are supposed to respond to persecution, or attacks?  Are we called to beef up security, train ourselves for a violent response, or to be armed while we are at church?

The reality of Charleston and Sutherland Springs is that there is no way the shooter could have been stopped unless there was someone armed and on the premises when the firing began to happen.  As churches continue to discuss security, this will become plain to all and should leave any rational or logical evaluation with this conclusion.  But is that what we should do as Christians?  Are we responding to these shootings in the way the world would react or the way that Christ would respond?  Fortunately for us, the New Testament offers significant testimony to followers during times of persecution.

I know that this will more than likely not be popular in an America that is pro second amendment.  I know this will not be popular in a culture that has been taught that we have every right to defend ourselves, and our families.  I know that this will not be popular in a western Christian culture which doesn’t know how to respond to this type of murderous persecution biblically.  But I also know that the Bible does not call for an armed response to threats to our or our family’s persons.  In fact, it calls for just the opposite.  In fact, there are over 70 different verses in the New Testament describing our response to OR THE BENEFIT OF persecution.  There is not one instance, IN ALL OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, that calls for better security or armed protection of believers.  Here are a few examples.

Romans 8:35-37 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Romans 12:17-21 –  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 Peter 4:12-19 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?   And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

So what do we take from this?  Reading this, and the many other scriptures it would appear that we are called to just…suffer.  This is so contrary to everything in our culture which would have us crawling through air vents to take out would be shooters.  Does that mean that we are just to stand there and take it?  There is no instance in the New Testament where believers took up arms to stop persecution.  In fact, the one documented incident of a Christian fighting back resulted in his actions being rebuked by Christ himself.  Of course, I am referring to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In all of the documented instances of Paul, Stephen, or other nameless Christians being persecuted, there is no instance where Paul says to take up arms to protect yourself in church.

As the dialogue continues into church security, I hope that church leadership takes into consideration those who were persecuted in the New Testament.  I hope that the church does not cave to the trappings of the American culture, but instead caves to the rewards of a kingdom mentality.  We are citizens of the kingdom first and must act according to those ethics, rather than American ethics.

So the conversation shouldn’t be about added layers of security.  Instead, the discussion should be whether we dare to remain biblical in the face of persecution.

Advertisements

The Mark of a Champion: Turning Disappointment into Victory


I recently wrote a post about the so called “problem of evil” and how Christians should view it.  Well, as a youth pastor I get to see this played out in varying degrees in my ministry.  Sometimes people respond to challenges well, sometimes they don’t.  Today, I thought I’d try to encourage you by telling you a quick story of a young man in my youth group who is handling some adversity remarkably well.  Now, this adversity isn’t like facing cancer or the death of a loved one or anything like that, but it is still a big deal for him at this time in his life.

This student comes from a family of VERY talented wrestlers (one cousin was a 3 time state champ and another one was 4 time state champ… His daddy was also a great wrestler and is now one of the coaches in our area).  So, safe to say, wrestling is in his blood… It’s been his long-time dream to be a 4 time state champ as well – a dream that not only seemed possible, but quite likely as at the beginning of the season the main newspaper in our state picked him as a favorite for his weight class…  All that changed one tournament at the very beginning of the season when he was severely injured by an illegal move.

Of course, his parents sought out the best medical care they could find, but he kept getting mixed messages from the doctors – the reality was they couldn’t be sure how quick he could recover from the injury and as the season progressed it became more and more doubtful that he would be able to get in enough mat time to seriously challenge for state (if he got to wrestle this season at all). 

Did God want him to suffer this injury?  Was He using the evil of the blatantly illegal move and the injury that resulted to produce some greater good in this young man’s life? As we’ve seen from previous discussions, God does not cause evil in our lives to serve His purposes (God is Holy and thus wholly innocent of all evil)… However, He is also sovereign and thus any random and pointless evil/adversity that affects our lives is ultimately allowed by Him… James 1 and Romans 5 both tell us to rejoice or glory in suffering and trials – Why??? Because trials offer us an opportunity to “test our faith.”  They reveal what we really believe about God and ourselves… There are 2 basic choices every time we face difficulties: Become Better OR Become Bitter. 

We Become Better when we rely upon God to sustain and comfort us – He then can take the lemon-ness of the bad circumstances and help us turn it into something resembling lemonade (though the lemonade may still be fairly sour) – He does this by helping us grow in our perseverance (James 1), by giving us an opportunity to know and trust Him more and increase our Hope (Romans 5), and by opening the door to be a comfort and witness to those around us (2 Corinthians 1).

We Become Bitter when we allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity… when we let a natural sense of anger against the situation (and maybe even God) cause us to hold a grudge against Him… when we focus on the circumstance and/or its adverse affects and try to lay blame on everyone and everything else because of them.

Though there was much discouraging news and times of deep disappointment this freshman strove to keep pressing on and, even more so, to keep his mind focused on the right perspective:  Through the encouragement of his mom, he kept asking, “What can I learn from all this? What do I NEED to learn?”  He petitioned the elders of our church to pray over him (cf. James 5:13-16) – but not just for healing, but that he would maintain a righteous example for those around him – It was a very powerful time and no one left the room untouched by the Spirit of God.

Well, the healing didn’t come as quick as anyone would have hoped for… He still struggled through therapy and rehab and wasn’t released for even light work-outs until just a couple of weeks ago… Then, he was allowed to wrestle with the JV and took 2nd in his only JV tournament just last week – which is a major disappointment for someone who was previously picked to win state, especially since it was so close to the tournament he has to place in to qualify for state… Still, though, he has been relying upon God and striving to keep a positive outlook and a live as a solid example of faith.

Tomorrow this upstanding teenager is going to wrestle in regionals (the qualifying tournament for state) in his first varsity action since the injury… and He is going into it hoping to display aspects of Zechariah 4:6-7:  To compete – Not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the LORD Almighty… He will attempt to level a very large mountain for the Glory of God.

In my humble opinion it doesn’t matter if he loses every match tomorrow… This is because in light of how he continues to handle himself, he is already a champ in God’s eyes… and mine!

%d bloggers like this: