Monday, August 11, 2014

Additional thoughts on Responding to Persecution

In last night's sermon, we saw Daniel and the persecution he received from following Jehovah (Daniel 6).

I have been thinking more about Daniel praying before the open "windows".  We are not told his motivation for leaving the windows open to public view - only that this was his practice all along to pray toward Jerusalem to the LORD.  There may in fact be some Jewish prayer practice involved in this.  The question is whether to be publicly bold toward persecution or to avoid and flee persecution that you may live for God and evangelize another day.

We see examples of both in Scripture.  This morning I am reading in Acts 17 and in v.10, 14, and 15 there is fleeing by Paul, Silas, and Timothy to avoid persecution.  In just my quick thoughts, it seems like most of the persecution toward Paul came abruptly and spontaneously rather than him having warning or opportunity to flee.  Of course, the greatest consideration of Paul's response to persecution comes in Acts 21 when he seemingly ignores the leading of the Holy Spirit and goes to Jerusalem knowing that persecution awaited him. This bold choice to head toward persecution does NOT seem to be the will of God for Paul.

Of course, I am thinking of things like Hobby Lobby, photographers and bakeries refusing gay weddings, etc.  I am thinking of so many in the workplace that are forced to take diversity training that is entangled with decisions for Christ.  I am thinking of churches and pastors who will be threatened to lose tax exemption and tax privileges if they do not conform to political correctness.

It seems to me, as I said last night, that the Holy Spirit by His exact will in the situation must lead each believer to do what is God's will at that moment.  Daniel could have avoided and maybe even fled - but he did not.  He chose to continue in his public worship and trust the Lord with the outcome.  In all cases, we must not deny the Lord or disobey him to avoid persecution.  We must not cower as believers in the face of persecution.  It is never right to convert at the hands of oppression like many are doing before ISIS in Iraq.  However, the response to persecution is not a set standard either.  We have examples of different godly responses both to publicly stand, and to avoid and flee.

May the Lord give us the direction of His Spirit at the time to do His exact will.