I need to say this on account of having once been a minimizer, a denialist, made of teflon really, a rock and prone to not acknowledge those wounds that seem trivial at first glance. Don’t dismiss that kind of stuff, don’t pretend it doesn’t matter.
Also, I saw all the recent mockery, all the social media eye rolling about how Christians think they’re persecuted in the West and how they don’t even know what persecution is and they’re all just a bunch of snowflakes. Well, just because they say it, doesn’t make it true. Christians ARE persecuted in the West. It’s primarily psychological, emotional, and financial abuse, but that can be even worst, even harder to see and harder to cope with, and harder to heal from.
Not long ago someone spoke about bullying in high school and how awful this one guy was, tossing a kid in a dumpster. The essence of the conversation was thank goodness girls aren’t like that. Right, because women just bully and torment their rivals until they have a life long eating disorder, a hoarding issue, and the inability to form healthy relationships. True story. Don’t ever think physical abuse is the only kind of abuse that harms people.
So, I have never been executed, tortured, or boiled in oil and martyred, but I have been beat up, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I’ve been shunned, screamed out, saluted with one finger, and left out of all the cool reindeer games. I’ve been rejected by friends and family alike, some of those relationships that remain unhealed to this day. I’ve lost jobs because people have found out I was a Christian and since they hated all things Christian, I was just deemed “not a good fit.” I’ve been called crazy, delusional, racist, hateful, and sick.
These are small things, but they affect you, they impact your life. Pretty soon you just start to comply, you just find it far easier to take your cross off when someone tells you they find it offensive and the last thing you want to do is offend anyone. When “praise the Lord” or “thank the baby Jesus” just slips off your lips, and people turn and stare, or express their offense, or start mocking, you soon just learn not to say it anymore.
Persecution is when people make you promise not to talk about Jesus at a picnic because, “we have to be fair to everyone,” but you notice everyone else is talking about the things that matter to them, and exploring every possible spiritual path that involves Anything But Jesus.
Persecution is when you walk into work and people decide to start chanting “hail satan” to ridicule you, to express their opposition to Who you believe in and you just have to smile sweetly because apparently they have a right to practice “their religion” even if you don’t. Now, keep smiling and put up with that nonsense at the end of a ten hour shift.
Persecution is when your whole life falls apart, when you are broken and wounded and the people who are supposed to be there for you, just can’t resist the urge to say, So where’s your imaginary God-god now??
I have a lot more to say on the subject of Christian persecution, about the wounds inflicted on us by our secular culture, by our cancel culture and shunning, even by other Christians, but I’ll leave it at that for today.
Not long ago my friend Daniel told a story about the French Revolution, about how all the nobles prided themselves on their stoicism, on their ability to go to the guillotine with dignity. This may well have contributed to how the crowds responded, to their inability or unwillingness to recognize the inhumanity of what they were doing. The last person to be executed was not stoic, she was someone’s obscure mistress who was not brave, she went to her death screaming and crying, accusing them of wanting to hurt her, making such an emotional fuss, the executioner tried to hurry and the people just turned away in discomfort.
The last person they executed told the truth about what was happening to her, about how people were behaving, about the injustice, the bloodlust, and the murder of the innocent that was going on. She was not a stoic.
Maybe if more Christians in the Western world could locate their intestinal fortitude with two hands and flashlight, and speak up rather than just priding themselves on their alleged stoicism and pretending these things don’t matter, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in now.
One of the most grievous things I watch these days is how easy it is to talk young people out of their faith, to rob them of their relationship with Jesus, to try to make that sweetness into something shameful, something hateful, something socially unacceptable. I could care less about people favor and approval, but for a lot of younger people, the approval of their peers can feel like their whole world.
That IS persecution. There is more than one way to murder a person’s soul.