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The Persecuted Western Church

As I was doing some preparation for the International Day of the Persecuted church I was struck by the reality that persecution for Western Christians is on the rise. Below is an extract from a 2009 blog Bill Muehlenberg from Christian Today Australia wrote on this subject.

To watch Western culture is increasingly to watch case after case of Christian persecution. On a daily basis Christians are being vilified, attacked, persecuted, and targeted by various forces, including secularist governments.

That is partly why all sorts of laws are being passed to effectively silence the Christian churches. All sorts of cheap excuses are brought up to render believers ineffective in proclaiming their faith. All manner of politically correct foolishness is sweeping the West, all with the intent of muting the Christian voice.

Indeed, the West is not so much post-Christian any longer, but actually anti-Christian. And it is getting more so each passing day.

Of course the early church wrestled with all this as well. They proclaimed Jesus Christ as the one true royal master, not Caesar. A clash of royal domains was underway. As Tom Wright says about Paul while in prison: “The reason he was there was that what he had been doing and saying was seen as an offence to the people in power. He was announcing a royal message, a ‘gospel’ which clashed head on with the royal message on which the Roman Empire was built: the announcement of Caesar as Lord.”

We too proclaim a different king. This is the risen Lord who was betrayed and rejected by men. They hated him and they will hate us. There is no getting around this. In the light of all this, every one of us must start asking ourselves some very hard questions.

Are we willing to pay the price for following Christ publically and boldly? Are we committed to our Lord so fully, that we would be willing to lose our jobs, be heavily fined or spend time in prison for the sake of Christ? Are we willing to give our very life away for the sake of the gospel?

But remember, it is always easier to say we will die for our Lord. It is much harder to actually live for our Lord right now. Will we walk with him along the road less travelled? Will we join him on the Via Dolorosa? Will we take up our cross and follow him as he has called us to do?

Very soon indeed these will not just be rhetorical questions.

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