Shaky Kingdom: A Tiny Series on Christian Nationalism | Day 3
As I mentioned in the first day of this tiny series, Christian Nationalists operate on the power of fear, particularly on the fear of persecution. Christian values, and Christians by extension, are under attack in this country. This is shocking, wrong, and in desperate need of fixing. Or, is it? Today, we take a look at how the Bible, not Nationalists, respond to persecution.
Expectation versus Surprise
Christian Nationalists try to shock you into believing that persecution is surprising. You need to be very alarmed and scandalized that Christianity is under attack, which is interesting given the Bible’s frequent prediction of Christian persecution.
Paul in his second letter to Timothy writes, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2:12-13 NIRV). Jesus himself forewarned his followers of their impending persecution: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” (John 15:19-20).
The truth is that you have never been promised an easy life as a believer in Jesus. You should expect to suffer for the sake of the gospel. Anyone who wants to coax you into shock at a little adversity wants something from you.
Joy versus Anger
Christian Nationalists want you to be angry and dismayed by your supposed persecution. They want to mobilize your anger to elect them into office and arm yourselves to complete acts of violence against image bearers.
In Jesus’ most famous sermon, he gives you the true reaction to actual persecution: “Blessed are those who suffer for doing what is right. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Blessed are you when people make fun of you and hurt you because of me. You are also blessed when they tell all kinds of evil about you because of me. Be joyful and glad. Your reward in heaven is great. In the same way, people hurt the prophets who lived long ago.”
Anyone who is trying to convince you to fear or be angry about your persecution is focused on the weight of what this world can do. Do not fear for such fickle, temporary things. A person of real faith, a person you should listen to, will tell you to focus on what happens when you arrive home. Rejoice and be glad in any ill that comes your way because of the gospel of Christ. Keep your eyes focused on the kingdom and let the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, and peace) replace the fruits of the nationalists (hatred, anger, and anxiety).
Strength versus Weakness
Christian Nationalists want you to think about your strengths and your power. They want you to put them in positions of influence and power. They want control and authority. They want to boast in their strength.
Paul discourages the church of Corinth from such ideas: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.’ So I am very happy to brag about how weak I am. Then Christ’s power can rest on me. Because of how I suffered for Christ, I’m glad that I am weak. I am glad in hard times. I am glad when people say mean things about me. I am glad when things are difficult. And I am glad when people make me suffer. When I am weak, I am strong.”
The voices you should be listening to will be bragging about their positions in prisons, not palaces. The more suffering you endure, the less room you take up of yourself. When you have nothing, you make room for the One who has everything to enter in.
Prayer: Make me tiny, Lord, so that you might be visible to those around me. Make me weak, Lord, so that you are my only source of strength. Jail me, Lord, so that I may know where freedom comes from.
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