How Should We Respond to Persecution?
2 revolutionary-aged pistols

While flipping through Facebook one day, I came across an article asking if Christians should retaliate when continuously persecuted. The actual question on Facebook was, “Facing Persecution, Retaliate with the Love of Christ and Prayer: Does the Bible teach Christians to retaliate during repeated persecution?” The answer to this question from this article was YES – to retaliate with our weapon which is the love of Christ and prayer. This actually makes sense in the sense of what our weapon of choice should be, but as others were chiming in suggesting the answer to be “yes”, but with different suggestions of how to retaliate, being one who enjoys to chime in on such questions, I decided to give my 2 cents on the matter also:

“This has actually been a struggle for me. Whenever I think the answer is ‘yes’, we should retaliate, I become hardened in heart, frustrated, and angry. I become angry at people who persecute us and begin thinking up arguments against them, and I also become angry at the many churches in the U.S. who have set bad examples of Christ, thus feeding the fire of so many non-believers who at one time may have looked to the Church for answers or comfort, and since have been shunned and pushed away by such who claim the name of Christ. (See? There’s an example of my frustration and anger right there).

Now, when I think of the answer as ‘no’, the first thing I’m reminded of is when Jesus told His disciples that if a town rejects your message, retrieve your peace from that place and kick the dust off your feet as a testimony against that place (which basically means that if they don’t receive Him by or before Judgment Day, they’re toast).

Then I’m reminded of when Paul said ‘Never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’says the Lord’.

Also, when I have friends who want to argue their thoughts and accusations about God, and I answer their questions, and they keep piling on the persecution, I’ve come to learn that there needs to be a place where I decide to stop talking and leave, kick off the dust from my feet, and go talk with somebody else who might listen and may respond positively (or honestly) to the Gospel.

Peter actually talks on this subject in his first letter, saying, “Don’t be surprised…” for when we rub shoulders with society, we should actually expect hostility, because we’re clashing with a sinful world. But a corporate judgment is happening, and it’s beginning with God’s household. “And if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who don’t obey the Gospel of God?” But now, in terms of how to respond, Peter says that “it’s God’s will that by doing good, (we) should silence the ignorant talk of the foolish.” In other words, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” And if we should have difficulty with this, Peter suggests that we see Jesus as our role model in the midst of suffering, for He was abused, insulted, and reviled, yet He didn’t retaliate.

In light of the persecution we continue to receive in the world and on Facebook, I do get upset sometimes, and though I’m reminded of all these things, I also remember that Jesus is returning very soon, and things will continue to get worse for us as that day approaches. That’s not to say that we need to be passive towards persecution, but Jesus did say that as the world hated Him, it will also hate us, so we should expect it. He also told us to pray for those who persecute us. 

So in short, I’m going to say that the answer is ‘no’, unless, as the original post says, our weapons against them are ‘the love of Christ, and prayer’.”

—Pastor Andy G.

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