psalm 23
Current Events

Are We Ready for Persecution?

Keith Echols

It has come to light in recent days that the attack at a Kenyan university resulting in the death of 147 students was one that had malicious intent towards Christians. The militant Muslim group, Al-Shabab, targeted students who were—or potentially could have been identified as—Christians. This story is a familiar one, at least internationally, making it evident that the persecution of Christians outside of the United States is real and increasing in frequency.

Are We Ready?

Each time I read one of the stories I battle with the question, “As Christians in the United States, are we ready for persecution?” This question may sound slightly dramatic because, in the United States, we have the protection of the Constitution that shelters us from such acts—for now. On Easter Sunday, many people in this country drove to public places of worship and freely acknowledged the death and resurrection of Christ. I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast in the news reports of those Kenyan students who senselessly lost their lives simply for naming the name of Christ. While the chasm between the experience of Christians in this country and others around the world is great, the bridge to closing this gap is being built in our country as we speak.

Our Limited Freedom

As the influence of secularism and moral relativism continues to permeate all aspects of American society, the freedoms and benefits of being a Christian are becoming more limited. The culture has addressed the big societal questions about marriage, abortion, and religious freedom. Christians have been placed on notice. The moral revolution in the United States has made it clear that the culture will not tolerate Christians taking any position short of complete assimilation to the new moral ethic.

Threatened Comfort

I pose the question again. Are we ready for persecution? Are we at the point of persecution those 147 students experienced when they lost their lives? No. We are at the point of persecution at the threat of our comfort. The freedoms and protections that were unquestionably accorded to Christians in the United States in decades past are now dwindling. Our reputation, our ability to worship freely, our jobs, and our freedom of speech are all on the chopping block. Publicly acknowledging Christ may not result in the loss of our lives, but taking a stand for Christ from this point forward will result in some kind of loss. Are we ready? It is a question that I wrestle with constantly, especially as I rock my son to sleep at night. I pray that God will call my boy unto Himself. In the event that He does, how do I prepare him to navigate a culture that will hate him for being a Christian?

Jesus on Persecution

In John 15:18–20, Christ makes it clear that we will be hated for His name. There is nothing more honorable, yet more terrifying than being persecuted for Christ. It is honorable to be hated for Christ’s namesake because persecution is a clear mark that you are identified with Him. It is terrifying because persecution will require that we let go of our ability to control situations and outcomes and trust in Christ’s sovereignty.

Our First Priority

Are we ready for persecution? We must wrestle with this question in such a manner that the result is a deeper devotion in whom we believe and in what we believe. We must resolve that, no matter what the cost, staying faithful to Christ is our number one priority. We must commit to supporting our Christian brothers and sisters as they walk through persecution. We must live with eternity in mind. Finally, we must trust that when persecution is laid at our feet, the Holy Spirit will empower and embolden us to respond as we should (Matthew 10:19–20).

I pray that just as those 147 students gave all for the cause of Christ, we Christians in the United States will have the strength and courage to do the same. Let us all take some time to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering for Christ’s sake and pray we are counted worthy when our hour comes.

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