Standing Strong Through the Storm - Thursday, February 20, 2014

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 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. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. John 15:18-21

Ron Boyd-MacMillian concludes his two-part analysis of religious freedom in our country:

It was a persecuted Christian in the Middle East who gave me the eyes to see that religious freedom always needs protecting, wherever one is.

“Freedom is fragile,” she said. “Religious freedom is not about having the right laws to protect belief—that’s a myth put out by the human rights community. No, religious freedom is protected not by laws, but by a climate of respect and openness that ensures the laws are correctly applied. A toleration law, for example, can be used for or against Christians. Christians always have to fight to ensure the climate is tolerant.”

She added, “I don’t care what country or state you live in, you also live in a culture that hates Christ. That’s your fight, and every Christian on the earth has the same fight, whether you belong to a so-called Christian society or not.”

She was right. A climate of prejudice against Christians has crept up by stealth in western cultures, even in apparently Christian ones. We are in a battle in our own backyard. Thank you, persecuted church, for awakening me to the fight!

As Ron writes, we are in a battle even at home. It doesn’t take much insight—or even imagination—to assess the direction of the moral slide in our free societies, especially in the Western world. Biblical values are disappearing and secular philosophies with a pseudo-biblical aura are fast taking their place.

As I’ve travelled and spoken in western countries, it is not uncommon to have folk share with me how they lost their employment because of their faith. They had not been obnoxious nor spending company time witnessing. They had simply expressed their support for biblical principles that were being violated. Jesus warns in our scripture today that this treatment is because of His name. Let’s make sure that it is not because we refuse to be His salt and light.

RESPONSE: Today I will walk with my eyes open to the reality of anti-Christian prejudice. And I will retaliate with the only weapon Jesus authorized: love for all others—even my perceived enemies.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that because of Your life in me I am bound to generate negative reactions. Help me to respond in a truly loving manner as You exemplified and be Your salt and light in a darkening world.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

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