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How a Christian Should Deal With Evil Government Laws and Persecution - Part 3
By : FIKAYO ADEYEMO
Posted : 14 July, 2016
This is a five-part series on the subject of Christian Persecution. Although each post is designed to be self-explicit and independent, it is advisable that the entire series is read as a unit. The following links will guide to all the posts:

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

DON'T LOSE SIGHT OF THE CHRISTIAN CALLING

On many occasions, our troubles are not the result of persecution but self-invited punishment for socio-cultural trespassing. This happens when we do not properly grasp the mandate given by our Lord, and in its place we veer off to entangle ourselves with the affairs of the world.

Social Activism is Not Our Commission

No one can fail to observe and be angered by the poor state of the modern society in the provision and administration of social amenities and governance. All over the world, it is either a story of non-provision or of lopsided distribution. This affects politics and governance, healthcare, education, legal justice, labour relations and access to economic resources. As ugly and unfortunate as these things are, it is necessary to remind ourselves that their resolution is not our responsibility as Christians.

Our primary mandate is not the socio-cultural enhancement of the world but the salvation of the souls of men.

When we shine the gospel light, the purpose is to show the path of salvation from darkness to light and eternal life. It is not to brighten their environment so as to make them feel more comfortable in their lost state. We are to deplete the world by rescuing its enslaved captives and not to make it a more desirable prison. Failure to understand this basic duty is the grave error of the social gospel movement. Of course, there is no doubt that the sheer shinning of the light will automatically be attended by improved societal conditions in all areas. This should be understood as the collateral manifestation of God's blessing via the channel of the gospel and never be mistaken for the purpose of our calling.

The only time we need to make the administration of social facilities our direct concern is when they become tools of Christian persecution or channels of propagation of spiritual error in the society. For instance, with respect to education, the mere provision of "good" schools by the government is not so much of our concern as are the following:

- The singling out Christians to be deprived of the opportunity for schooling, whether partially or fully;
- Enacting a law that removes the option of home schooling;
- Developing a curriculum (such as the Common Core) that advocates spiritual falsehoods AND compels Christian kids to adopt those lies.

These are the types of things to resist - and in doing so, we should make the our basis of resistance clear - spiritual conviction rather than social activism.

But if on the other hand, we spend our time and efforts advocating for, say, increased pay for school staff and better playground facilities, etc, then we are not really focusing on our Father's work. (Parallels to these examples can easily be found in other aspects of our societal life). A Christian arrested and punished while in such a pursuit cannot claim he/she was victimised for the Christian faith. We must do kingdom work with kingdom resources using kingdom patterns.

Proper understanding of our calling will lead us to pick our "battles" rightly and not be embroiled in the affairs of the world which deceptively appear like good deeds.

Always Preach Against Moral Evil

Whether freshly promulgated or present by established cultural practice, we should always preach against societal unrighteousness. Such issues would include abortion (and all forms of murder such as ritual killings, euthanasia especially of the aged and handicapped), sexual immorality like extra-marital sex (fornication, adultery, wife-swapping), racism, homosexuality, bestiality, pedophilia and child-brides.

We must be sure to direct our rebuke against the practice of evil rather than against the person of the practitioner(s). We are to judge the sin, not the sinner. Ours is to declare the truth - we cannot change the heart (or behaviour) of men. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. In my native Nigeria, the Christian sister Mary Slessor did an early work to stop the society-approved twin sacrifice among some of the natives without alienating the host community - but by letting them see the truth of God. This is an example of how we should confront the evils of today, especially abortion and homosexuality which are currently looming large.

Needless to say, all our effort must be soaked in prayer.

Do Not Incite To Violence or Civil Disturbance

We are not to champion or even join in social violent unrest in response to evil laws. We are spiritual light-bearers, not social crusaders.

Certainly we should move within the society, using every available legal means to implement the commission of our Lord, but in doing this, we note that nowhere in the Scripture are we given a pattern of civil violence as the proper response to societal evil. The weapon of our warfare are not carnal.

Every door of opportunity to connect with people of the world should be utilised to shine our light via preaching, teaching, giving, etc. aimed at showing God's love. Never to incite to violence, however ugly the evil being confronted may be. Thankfully, there are now many more channels of reaching the children of the world with the truth than in the early church. Jesus and the apostles had only the streets and the use of letters. Today, we have social media, websites/blogs, mass emails, adverts, radio/tv, and others in addition to the formal pulpit to speak against evil. Let us use these fully and boldly.

The one thing we definitely have in common with the early church is persecution. Just as the powers of the day, both Roman and Jewish, antagonised the preaching of the truth, our society today is also characterised by a great antagonism to the gospel.

Now, the question should be asked, "If while preaching within the provision of our legal/constitutional rights, or if those rights are infringed upon by the authorities, or if any of our God-assigned activities (such as preaching, teaching and making disciples) is denied us, what do we do?" The direct answer is, resist. That is, we do exactly what the Bible says to do.

Resist Every Act of Compulsion to do Evil

Our resistance is not limited to hinderance from spreading the word. It also must be against attempts to coerce us into evil doings. Often, the devil is not content with undermining our efforts. He actually wants to recruit/compromise us - by trickery or force. He has long been using this coercive "join us" approach to persecute believers as evinced by the experiences of Daniel and the three Hebrew youths.

It is also the well-known favorite method of Islam, appropriately described as the "convert or die" policy. What is very disturbing is the resurgence of this very evil attack method in the "advanced" West, especially the U.S. Today, it is no longer strange to hear government attempting to compel Christians to practise things contrary to their beliefs and convictions - and in violation of their rights. Examples include requiring a Christian employer to pay for the abortion of employees, and compelling marriage officials to conduct homosexual unions.

Why are these things even gaining traction? Because unlike our brethren of the previous millennia and centuries, we Christians today are no longer bold to stand for our beliefs and resist evil. We are soft spiritually and surrender to the enemy at the slightest hint of battle.

(Next post in this series, Hearken Unto God Rather Than Man will consider how to resist the evil of persecution).

God bless you.

(Don't forget to share your views in the Comments section below. We'd love to hear from you!)
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