My Thoughts. . .

Monday, March 25, 2019

In first century’s Rome and twentieth centuries Nazi Germany, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and in Idi Amin’s Uganda, those with conflicting views were hated, vilified, persecuted, and robbed of their citizenship, property, jobs, and lives.  Those and other regimes imprisoned, enslaved, tortured, and murdered anyone that stood in their way.  What if here in the United States it became illegal to be a Christian?  The punishment for being a believer in Jesus would be loss of citizenship privileges, property, jobs, dignity, and life.

What if the government passed laws declaring all Christians as enemies of the State?  Anyone identified as a Christian would lose his job.  The family would be moved into a rundown section of the city so their property could be distributed by the State to non-believers.  Barbed wire would surround that area and passes at checkpoints had to be shown to exit from it.   Anyone outside that area after certain hours would be jailed and beaten before release.  Some would never be seen again.  Job permits would also be needed for menial work outside that restricted area.  A sewed-on cross would identify the believer as David’s Star branded a Jew in Nazi Germany.  Christians would be treated like third class citizens, lower than slaves or property.  Women identified as Christians could be raped without recourse to justice.  Children so identified would be subjected to beatings by bullies from the privileged section of the city.  Any Christians traveling outside their section of town must avert their eyes downward to show their inferior status while in the presence of non-believers.  Beatings could be expected for no reason.

The State confiscated every church building, converting each into small apartments for government housing or warehouses.  Those apartments would be available to the lawful citizens, not believers.  All vehicles belonging to Christians would be seized and distributed to worthier citizens.  Christians would not be allowed to ride on city buses or in other public conveyances seated with the general public.  They would be restricted to certain sections clearly marked.   Walking would be the common means of travel, although not without danger to the pedestrian.

Public gatherings of Christian would be forbidden.  Disobedience would be met with arrests, beatings, loss of whatever work each was engaged in, and the leaders jailed, tortured, and never seen again.  Whatever meetings were planned, care would have to be taken to not invite a stranger or someone too friendly with non-believers.  The assembly would need to be small and held late at night.  Each participant should stay in the shadows to not attract attention.  If followed, the group would be discovered.  Denominational divisions, traditions, customs, culture, and opinions would have to be discarded.  Instruments would be too dangerous to carry or use.  Quietness would be expedient.  Concealing any lights would be essential.  All loud displays would invite discovery.  Basically, the gathering would be to quietly encourage and strengthen one another.

Each Christian would have three choices.  Number one would be to denounce Jesus and joined the ranks of the non-believers.  He would keep his social standing, job, property, and societal respect.   The second choice would be to openly identify himself as a Christian.  He would lose everything.  He would be treated as an inferior and open himself to abuse which he had never dreamed of experiencing.  The third choice would be to keep his identity as a Jesus follower secret.  He would pretend to be a non-believer.  This would allow him to continue to remain in society, yet secretly work for Jesus.  This is what is inferred about Manean, who was brought up with Herod the Tetrarch (Acts 13:1).  It also seems evident concerning those who continued working in the emperor’s palace (Philippians 4:22).  Although the apostles were scattered when Jesus was arrested, John took Peter and went to where Jesus was held.  He was known there and allowed to enter.  Peter had his problems, but John did not.  In spite of the circumstances, John did not deny Jesus.  He was not shy about using his friendship with the high priest’s family to gain entrance to the place Jesus had been taken (John 18:15).  It is apparent that he did not brag about being one of Jesus’ apostles either.  When Jesus was arrested, John did not accompany him to the place where the mob was taking Jesus to be judged!  Scripture states, “Then all the disciples deserted him and fled” (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50).  John was in that group!

An average of ten believers are murdered each day in our world because they are identified as Christians.  Their houses are ransacked and usually burned.  The Christian family is beaten.  Young Christian girls and boys are often kidnapped and sold as sex slaves.  Church buildings are burned down.  Christian services are invaded, and members beaten.  There is a world-wide movement to either forcibly convert all Christians, murder them, or make them second class citizens.  That belief system is now in the United States clothed with different names and philosophies.

Paul and company had folks like that in his day that followed him from one city to another attempting to end his ministry.  Today, that effort to silence is alive and active.  Christianity is charged with being offensive and treacherous.  How long before it is made illegal?

 

If you were given one of three choices above, which would you choose?   Some would repudiate Jesus to save their family and themselves.  Others would choose number two even if it meant death for them and the spouse and physical and sexual slavery for their children.  Some of the children might convert while others would resign themselves to that abuse.  Some would choose the third option.  They would secretly continue to serve Jesus.  Peter chose number one by denying openly.  Didn’t John and the others choose number three for a short period of time?