I had some typos in the last post, so will try to keep my thinking and typing skill at he same speed!
After writing the blog on religious freedom I was sent another blog on the same subject. My first reaction was agreement, then I took another read. I don’t agree entirely. Let me explain.
We need to make a distinction between persecution for what we do as individuals and persecution for what and who we are in Christ. In the blog I mentioned, it gave an example of real persecution of Christians in Iraq. Christians being killed and abused, not for what they were doing, but who they were as a class of individuals.
In the New Testament era we don’t have persecution of believers for agitating to change Roman laws or to enact legislation that would install Christian values into the Roman legal code. Christians were not even insisting that Caesar give the title of ”lord.”
The apostle Paul did not insist shopkeepers stop selling meat offered to idols. In fact Paul didn’t really tell believers to eating meat offered to idols. Their decision was to be based upon their personal conviction and the love of other people who would be offended by eating meat. I don’t believe Paul raised this question or asked where meat came from in cities other than Corinth.
Early Christians were persecuted for following Jesus as Lord and trying to live out His teachings. From all appearances, the Christians in Iraq were doing this.
Oh yes, Paul did make an appeal to Caesar, but what was his appeal? It was an appeal for Roman justice. It was not an appeal to change Roman law to benefit him and other believers. He submitted himself to the Roman law and told believers they should be subject to the governing powers. This subjection to law meant an acceptance of the consequences of disobeying it. Why should Christian complain about persecution for being a Christian? Why should we expect to get special attention and reprieve?
On the other hand, we can be persecuted for our own negative witness. The blog sent to me used the example of the baker in Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couples’ wedding. In reading the original account of that incident, and if it were correctly reported, the baker would have sold them a cake already baked. His refusal was to bake a special cake for the occasion an now is supposedly being persecuted for Christian belief.
Really? Was his decision based on his being a Christian or on his revulsion at having to deal personally with the lesbians and having a hidden, or not so hidden, prejudice against lesbians and homosexuals? It is easy for us to take personal prejudices and feelings and turn them into theological dogmas.
What was his attitude toward the women? We don’t know. In what tone and voice did he state his objection? We don’t know. Was his refusal done in a Christian manner or in negative condemnation of them as persons? We don’t know.
I do not see troops rounding up Christians and putting them into jail simply because they are believers. I do see a lot of Christians being “persecuted” because they do not witness “with gentleness and respect.” When insulted, those who “speak evil” of our “good conduct as followers of Christ” should be “ashamed of what they say” and not be able to accuse us of bigotry and prejudice [1 Peter 3:16, GNB].
Why would the baker sell them a cake already done and refuse to bake a special cake? Hmmm. What was the witness there?