The sun rises on the evil and the good

Persecution
by La Shawn Barber

Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at 4:19 pm

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9, NKJV).

Christians in America face loss of livelihood, fines, and other forms of government coercion for the faith, but we’re not yet at the point where we face prison or death.

News stories like this one put things in perspective. Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services accused two pastors, Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yein Reith, of spying, undermining the constitution, “offending Islamic beliefs,” and other offenses. We can reasonably assume the Islamic beliefs offense is the real reason they’re in prison.

“I’m fearful that they will execute these pastors for practicing their faith,” Open Doors USA CEO David Curry said. His group advocates for persecuted Christians. Can you imagine what their families are going through? Ruot’s wife said, “We are still worried about their detention. Let us continue to pray for them so that God can help them to be released.”

The government agency wants the church to pay $12,000 to release the men. If the church pays, will the government round up more Christians and demand more money? As I studied a photo of Ruot, I thought, what chance do these poor men have? Living as Christians in a Muslim-controlled area, they knew imprisonment and/or death were part of the risk of being a follower of Christ. We know this, too, but Christians in America rarely give it serious thought. The threat to liberty we’re dealing with is that perversion has become mainstream, and we’re pressured to pretend it’s normal.

That’s not to say American Christians won’t deal with loss of freedom or their lives someday. I hope to be long in my grave before Islamic law becomes yet another threat to the American way of life, because the idea doesn’t seem far-fetched now. Imagine 20 years ago, our government fining a business run by Christians into bankruptcy for refusing to provide services for a homosexual wedding. That probably seemed like the stuff of dystopian novels. Today, it’s how we live.

Whether in Muslim countries or the free-for-now West, all Christians are called to obedience. Our Savior asks us to perform a difficult task: Pray for our enemies. Pray for someone who thinks you’re a vile, ignorant, delusional, religious bigot? Yes. Pray for someone who wants to see you ruined for even thinking negative thoughts about homosexuality? Yes. Pray for the unbeliever ready to swing the sword that will separate your head from your body? Yes.

Christ said:

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45, NKJV).

La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

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