Religious persecution does not start with rocks being thrown through your windows. It doesn’t begin with you and your family loaded on a train with others of like faith and being carted off to concentration camps. It begins with the demeaning of your religion and culture. It proceeds from demeaning to demonizing and dehumanizing. Only then does it come down to boxcars and crematoriums. It is not hard to generate hate against a group of people. To whatever extent a group is identifiable, they can be demonized.
We are a long way from this in America, but Christians in other parts of the world are not so lucky. Without the protections that we enjoy, Christians in other countries are being imprisoned, tortured, enslaved and killed. We enjoy these protections for now, but will we always? I wonder. How should a Christian respond to blasphemy, insults and persecution?
I don’t think a lot of Christians understand our role in the world. We are not here to be defenders of the faith. We are here to be witnesses of the faith….by dying if necessary. If there is one thing Jesus made clear, it is that his disciples would suffer persecution. Right off the start, in the Sermon on the mount, he had this to say:
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.