Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Crying Wolf over Persecution

You've probably seen the story.  A man in Arizona is "jailed for holding a Bible study" in his home.  Fox News broke this story to us this week.  You can watch their video here.  The story from their view point is that this was a man, in his own living room, who is holding a Bible study.  Now he is arrested and persecuted because of his faith.

But is this the whole story?  Actually, it is far from the whole story.  Relevant magazine posted a story today which sheds some more light on this story.  You can read their story here.  I have several major issues with this story, and how it is getting twisted to make it sound worse than it is.

Let's begin with the claim that he isn't actually breaking the law.  As it turns out, the man is not only breaking zoning laws, but also tax laws.  He wants the government laws to work in his favor when he can keep the money, but not when he needs to pay up.  This is a legal issue, and in case we forget, we are called to submit to the governing authorities.  They are not asking too much.  They simply want him to obey the laws which are in place.

And by the way, this isn't in his living room.  It is in a building out in the back of his house, where they have seating for 140 people, and meetings there three times a week with up to 80 people.  The area he lives in isn't designed for that, nor is the building.  It is a danger to those who are inside, and those who live in the community.

If this man would simply obey the law, he could have church.  If he wants Bible studies in his home, that is okay too.  But this wasn't a Bible study.  This was church, with a pulpit, offering and all.  Crying wolf only hurts the image of Christians today, and does nothing for the cause of Christ.  

My biggest gripe, though, is the claim of being persecuted.  We in America need to stop this complaining.  There are countries where you cannot even claim to be a Christian, let alone talk about Jesus, without being martyred.  There are countries where, when you get baptized into the Church, you are forever cut off from your family.  Even in some of the areas of the world with "lesser" persecution, you can be one, just don't speak about it in public.  We are not persecuted in this country.

In addition, this is an insult to those who are actually undergoing persecution.  There is the recent story of the pastor in Iran jailed for his faith, and concern for many all over the world who are dying.  Just a couple of weeks ago, two churches near the Somali border were attacked, and 17 Christians were gunned down.

Fellow Christians, please speak up loudly for the persecuted Christians of the world.  We must raise our voices, and lift our prayers to the heavens for those who suffer for what they believe.  For those, however, who are claiming persecution, but living in violation to the Word of God and reasonable civil laws, we must be careful to not defend.

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