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How a Christian Should Deal With Evil Government Laws and Persecution - Part 1
By : FIKAYO ADEYEMO
Posted : 9 October, 2015
Right from its very beginning, the beliefs and practices of Christians have been characterized by irreconcilable differences from the preferences of the world system at large. Sometimes, these societal preferences were inconsequential socio-cultural issues that were amenable to resolution via relational approaches. But in many situations, they are severe and sharp antagonisms which often took the form of persecutions - either by intolerant neighbors or by the government of the land. For this reason, human history is littered with secular enactments which either forbade core practices of faith, or which discriminatively deprived Christians of common societal rights and benefits.

Yet, down the centuries and millennia, through numerous waves of opposition and persecution, the Church has been able to survive and grow stronger while substantially maintaining all its core values.

How was this achieved?

Jesus is the Keeper of the Church

The central point to hold on to is that the survival of the Church is by the faithfulness of her Lord, Jesus Christ, who promised to build His Church such that the gates of Hades would not overcome it.

Still, there is no denying the fact that this feat was not performed by some mysterious abracadabra moves but rather that the Lord, who is our Captain, engaged us (His subjects-children) to do what needed to be done in righteousness, guiding us by His Spirit and instructing us by the precepts of His counsel as written in the Scripture. Now, as we find ourselves in yet another wave of evil persecution and widespread societal opposition to God's will, let us go back to the Scripture to refresh and re-assure ourselves of the divine counsel, lest we fall into the error of warring against flesh and blood or fighting with carnal weapons. The following five principles instruct us of the way to handle evil civil laws and persecutions.

Part 1: Remember that the Kingdom of God is not of the World
Part 2: Be Responsible Members of Your Immediate Secular Community
Part 3: Don't Lose Sight of the Christian Calling
Part 4: Hearken Unto God Rather Than Man
Part 5: Be Prepared For Any Consequence

Let us now see how they work out in practical Christian life.

1. Remember that the Kingdom of God is not of the World

The most persecuted person of all time was Jesus Christ Himself who experienced great persecution at the hands of both the religious leaders and civil authorities. Yet, in all these, He did not react in kind, specifically citing that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). This is a fundamental premise that governs every other thing we should do as Christians. We are not of this world even though we were taken from the world and exchanged our citizenship for that of God's kingdom. Therefore, as our citizenship is no longer here. We must continually guard against "going native" in the world.

The implications of this are many:

First, we don't strive for the things of this world, neither do we set our minds on them. Let the point of your fight or resistance against civil law not concern a thing of the world. Generally, this is the error of the defunct "social gospel", its successor movements and all types of the socio-cultural advocacy being championed in the guise of Christianity. Our mandate is to recruit citizen for God's kingdom from the fallen world where Satan holds sway, and NOT to reform the world. Therefore, even though a certain amount of reformation will invariably attend the preaching of the Cross, neither our message nor our action should be to reform the kingdom of darkness, but rather to deplete it.

Second, God, the King of kings, is our only provider and therefore, all the things of this world that are needful for our successful existence will be supplied by Him in His faithfulness. He will surely provide and as such, we ought not to be troubled concerning their possession. (Our possession doesn't come by our skills of acquisition but by God's grace of provision). Often, the very execution of an evil law directly targets our livelihood, such as the closure of a flower business that refuses to participate in a homosexual "marriage" ceremony. Nonetheless, such painful reality must never be a factor in our response or in any way make us waver in our resolve. Whatever the pain, our response must continue to be based on the word of God and not on the impact of the evil law on our income, realizing that our provision, in the final analysis, in from God and not from the business which the evil government has wickedly attacked.

Third, as we are not of this world, persecution is certain because the world sees us as its enemy. Therefore, it should not be a surprise to us at all. Just as it happened to Jesus, it will happen to us both from the civil society/authorities and the religious leaders. This persecution, especially as it concerns the civil society, is based on hate (John 15:18-19). Therefore, it won't offer any moral or rational justification for ots action. Jesus said we would be hated simply for being His followers and now indeed, we are hated. No rocket science here! This shows the error in trying to appease the world or water down our faith in the hope that the persecution may abate. Such things don't solve the problem of hate.

Similarly, concerning the persecution by religious groups especially Muslims, Hinduists and Buddhists, the Bible says, "The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service AND THESE THINGS THEY WILL DO TO YOU BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN THE FATHER NOR ME". (John 16:2-3). Therefore, brethren, do not be surprised and do not hate these people in return. Realize that what they do is the result of absence of knowledge of the true God and of Christ. Satan has so thoroughly deceived them that they think they can impress the true God by destroying the lives that He created as sacred entity. Therefore, forgive them for they know not what they do, but do not put your necks under their knives!

Finally, it has to be stressed that the certainty of persecution does not mean that we surrender our freedoms to be trampled upon or our God-given property plundered. However, we must be careful to know exactly what freedoms we are defending. To defend our freedom of worship and evangelism (Acts 4:14-20) is clearly different from defending our rights to, say, equal pay in the place of work. Similarly, the right to decide the content of the training of our children should supercede an advocacy for gun control, for instance. In this wise, the many obnoxious content of "common core" education are prime candidates for resistance - to the end that they be made optional for people with conscientious objection. So, while it is our responsibility to defend God's provision, such defence is not by carnal weapons but spiritual, trusting God and relying on His faithfulness (1 Peter 4:19; 1 Corinthians 10:4-5; Ephesians 6:12.) In this, we remain as gentle as doves while exercising wisdom as serpents always do, though ensuring that our wisdom isn't from beneath but from above.

Overall, let us not fall into the trap of joining the fray in the battles of the world under the guise of the Christian mandate. Our own battles are different.

Coming posts will address the remaining four principles.
(Don't forget to share your views in the Comments section below. We'd love to hear from you!)
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