Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8
Jesus’ basic communication theory in Matthew 12 is that people speak and act from the overflow of what is in their heart. Jeremiah and others remind us that the heart can be exceedingly wicked. One of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s famous statements is “The line of good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”
Christian persecution within a country or state rarely happens suddenly or in isolation. It is most often a process. Some years ago Rev. Dr. Johan Candelin, who headed the World Evangelical Alliance’s (WEA) Religious Liberties Commission recognized this and devised a three-stage process of what happens leading up to persecution becoming entrenched in any society. He labeled the three stages of downward spiral as disinformation, discrimination and persecution. Dr. Candelin later expanded it to a six-stage process with each of the three having a passive, then active, aspect.
Dr. Jim Cunningham and I included this process in the first edition of Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) and in our seminars.
Some academicians and wordsmiths found it problematic to label the third stage with the same word as that of the process. So we began to wrestle with this issue from a sociological, historical and biblical perspective. We found interesting academic parallels. For example, in 1996, Professor Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, proposed an excellent model of an eight stage process of genocide. There are interesting similarities between this downward spiral and what psychologist John Gottman has labeled as the four most likely predictors of divorce.
When we accepted Jesus’ four verb definition of persecution in Luke 6:22, we then found four clear biblical steps in understanding the downward spiral in the process of persecution: opposition, disinformation, injustice and mistreatment. We will look at these four steps forming the acronym ODIM individually over the next four days.
Why is this important to you and me? Just today I read again the poignant words of German theologian Martin Niemoller written after he had been imprisoned for eight years in concentration camps as the personal prisoner of Adolf Hitler:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
RESPONSE: Today I will speak out for the rights of those who have no voice to speak for themselves.
PRAYER: Help me, Lord, to be aware of the forces of evil that conspire against Your Kingdom.