Friday, February 22, 2013

Is Being Persecuted For Biblically Held Beliefs the Same Things as Sharing in the Sufferings of Christ?

Sometimes I am really glad to not have a blog that elicits a ton of comments. Actually, I’m lying. It makes me sad that I haven’t yet succeeded at creating a community here at Borrowed Light. But let’s pretend that I’m cool with it so I can make my next sentence. On days like today I wish that I had an active community here, because I would love to have a discussion.

My question is one that I don’t yet have an answer formulated for.

When the culture at large rejects biblical principles can we also say that they are opposing the gospel?

Or allow me to ask it a little differently.

Can we say that we are being persecuted for the sake of the gospel, when it’s really “biblical principles” (like the issue on homosexuality) that we are being persecuted for? Is being persecuted for biblically held beliefs the same thing as sharing in the sufferings of Christ?

What do you think?

I might attempt an answer to this later. But I need to have one first…


  1. Mike,

    When the gospel is redueced to "Jesus saved me from my sins", the answer to your question is no. We aren't being persecuted because Jesus saved us from our sins. When the gospel is loudly proclaimed "Jesus is Lord!" then we will face persecution.

    When we no longer declare Ceasar lord and when we no longer declare human passions to be lord, we will be persecuted just as the early church was. But we cannot make these declarations in a moralistic manner but in a truly righteous manner. We must make these declarations as those who live and serve in God's kingdom.

    We must proclaim "repent" and "the kingdom of God is at hand". And then we can expect to suffer the persecution of John the baptizer and Jesus Christ.

    Just my two cents.

  2. "Is being persecuted for biblically held beliefs the same thing as sharing in the sufferings of Christ?"

    Depends on which biblically held belief. But if you're being persecuted because you uphold Scripture's teaching that same-sex genital activity is sin, then it seems to me that you're sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

    But why is your question important to you?

    1. I'm trying to think through persecution as it relates to our stance on homosexuality and other biblical beliefs. Muslims disagree with homosexual behavior but I don't think we'd say they are sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Or would we? I've got a few ideas jumbled around in my head and I'm hoping that others can bring some clarity.

    2. "Muslims disagree with homosexual behavior but I don't think we'd say they are sharing in the sufferings of Christ."

      I don't see Muslims getting persecuted for their beliefs and teachings on homosexual behavior, do you?

      On the other hand, I do see Mormons getting persecuted for their beliefs and teachings on homosexual behavior.

      But why is linking persecution of Christians to whether they are sharing in the sufferings of Christ important to you? What would it establish for you in your mind?

    3. Few people in our culture have the guts to persecute Muslims. Mormons on the other hand...
      So, you can replace Muslims with Mormons.

      Honestly, I'm not sure what it would establish in my mind. I think what I'm trying to work through (and again it's just jumbled thought at this point) is that being persecuted for a biblical principle is different than being persecuted for Christ and His gospel. What I mean is that at the end of the day It'd be really sad if we were persecuted for a stance on homosexuality but that's it. I'm not saying that we shouldn't stand up for what the Scriptures state. I'm just wondering (again all this is jumbled at this point) whether or not there is a way of navigating through this social issue in such a way that if/when we are persecuted it's for the gospel and how it bears upon social issues and not just our stance on the social issue.

    4. Mike Leake,

      (Biblically, Ecclesiologically, Spiritually) What's the difference between a shepherd and a hireling?

    5. A shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hireling doesn't.
      Your point?

    6. "A shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hireling doesn't."

      Good answer.

      "Your point?"

      Suppose a shepherd is persecuted (figuratively or literally, "lays down his life") for what you call "a biblical principle [that] is different than being persecuted for Christ and His gospel."

      Question: Did that persecuted shepherd share in the sufferings of Christ?

    7. I think that depends.

      If the issue is homosexuality and I "lay down my life" in the hopes that people will not engage in soul-destroying sin then I would say yes. But if I "lay down my life" to acquire a political victory I would say no.

      The Pharisees were often persecuted for their views on circumcision among a few other strange Jewish beliefs. In a sense I think you could say that they laid down their lives for these convictions. But it was for nothing. Or as it says in 1 Corinthians 13 "If I give my body to the flames..." I believe there is a type of persecution and martyrdom that is dying for the wrong things. I'm trying to think through what that looks like.

    8. But why is it important to you to add (if/when you are persecuted) that you are "sharing in the sufferings of Christ"?

      Do you get extra points or greater recognition for making that claim about yourself?

    9. Interesting. I think you would know when you are being persecuted for Christ when it know now when you suffer whether it is because of your misjudgments (leaving God out of your decision making) or whether it is because of your Christianity. We are told not to worry about persecutions for Christ, are we not?

      Keep up your blog. I'm sure you have impact.

  3. I suppose the heart behind standing up for biblical principles may determine that. Whether or not the motive is to be 'right' and to prove oneself 'holier'...I find may be the issue. If it is out of compassion...out of a sincere longing for those individuals to turn from sin, repent, and know Christ and His Redemptive Love, to be rejected and misunderstood for that, I would say would be sharing in Christ's sufferings.

    However, it is true that our hearts are deceitful. Only the Lord can see and understand the depths of our hearts and what motivates us in every instance.

    I guess the fruit of it is what should be measured...does it allow us to identify with Christ in His Humility and Gentleness, without false, religious piety? I think we need God's Wisdom and Grace to truly know...

    That is my reflection. Thank you so much for your blog. It is an encouragement and a light.

    1. Kaitlyn,
      Thanks for the interaction and for your encouragement. I believe you are correct that our motivation and heart has a ton to do with it.

  4. I would argue that trying to uphold the law and being persecuted for it is very much different from preaching God's righteousness in Christ and being persecuted for it. The Pharisees were masters at upholding law and throwing it in the faces of others. We tend to think that they were well-respected in their day because we do not read otherwise, but knowing human nature I would guess that the 'prostitutes and sinners' against which the Pharisees spoke also spoke ill of them. I have no doubt that 'the religious' of Jesus' day were also persecuted to a degree for their 'righteousness'.

    Jesus was not himself persecuted for preaching the law. He was persecuted for teaching that men could not satisfy the law. Paul was persecuted for the same reason. There is a level of persecution that accompanies the effort to uphold the law, but since law is natural to the human understanding this is not truly persecution for the sake of righteousness. When we begin to preach that man can not uphold the law and is therefore in need of God's grace through Christ to be reconciled to God, we are in the realm where we may be persecuted for the sake of God's righteousness.

    I wrote a blog post not long ago entitled 'Without Excuse' that goes deeper into this idea. Check it out:

    I do like your blog, Mike. Like you, I am a frustrated blogger. Wish more people would take time to share their thoughts.

  5. PS - you made it to my feedly! Just to encourage you.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...