First of all, I don’t believe there is ‘so little persecution in the United States of America’.
The first reason known to me, and the one still primary in my thoughts, is this one: Jesus told us the world would persecute us. America is part of the world – not meaning the wholesome and very good creation of God, consisting of stars and suns and trees and flowers and human persons and so much more, but the construct and society and systems and worldviews, of which nations, at least as we know them, are a part, the domain of the Enemy, the Darkness which is not the pure darkness out of which God created or which is of the good night He made, but the Darkness of fallen and corrupted light. America, being part of the ‘world’ in this sense, the world that crucified our King, cannot be friends with Christians, or refrain from persecuting us who are called to be the light of the world because the Light of the World shines in our hearts and must shine through us.
For this reason, when first I heard that Christians were not persecuted in America, or persecuted only rarely, I found the statement extremely strange. I did not half-believe it. If it were half-true, it was because there were very few Christians indeed, and very few conversions, in the United States of America.
Since then, as I have come to know the place better, I have other reasons for concluding that persecution of Christians is not so rare – though much (I do not say all) of what passes for persecution of Christians, or is called such, in the media, and in the talk of the “churches” is no persecution at all, at least of Christians. My concern here, in this article, is persecution of Christians, not what might be persecution of others, perhaps other worldviews and holders thereof, or phenomena that cannot even be rightly and justly called persecution at all. These reasons, however, are not the point of this article, and I am not going to go into them.
To rephrase the beginning question: why does it appear that there is so little persecution of Christians in the United States of America?
The answer to this became obvious to me when I read the writing of some ‘American Evangelists’ and became somewhat acquainted with their practices. While it seems to me that some of them will gladly incite hostility where it makes them feel persecuted, and gives them an ‘I’m-so-persecuted’ feel-good feeling (something I do not understand), many of them shy from any real persecution. When they are told to stop preaching the Gospel, they do so – especially if they are told by the police! (Again, remember I am not saying all, but enough – a lot, and somewhat prominent ones. I do not know all, and so could not speak of all.) They speak of situations in which they were asked not to preach the Gospel, to discontinue preaching the Gospel in a certain venue, in which preaching the Gospel as they had been doing became illegal, or in which a permit was necessary for preaching to be legal, and other similar situations, as if choosing to stop preaching the Gospel or to apply for a permit was the obvious matter-of-course choice for a Christian to make. Now, I do not condemn specific instances, without knowing enough about them. There may be convergences of times, places, and persons where it is right to discontinue when asked, or to ask for a permit from the States. I do not know all things, and if I do not know, I do not make declarations as if I did know. But it is not the obvious course for a Christian, whose citizenship is in Heaven and eagerly awaits the Savior-King from there, to whom this whole world is hostile.
Even requesting a permit is a strange choice: is it not likely that asking for such a thing might be equivalent to confessing the authority of the State to tell you when or how or where you may or may not proclaim the Good News? It seems obvious that, in most cases, if not all (and it may not be all) asking for a permit is equivalent to confessing the authority of the State over whether you obey the Commission of Jesus.
This is one tiny instance, and it is not at all uncommon. Many (not all) of the reasons given for why we must do Apologetics come down to avoiding forms of persecution.
Parents, calling themselves Christian (whether they be such or no is no business of mine; at least some of them probably are, and some not, to my understanding) raise their children to think and act like the world, to pursue worldly success instead of the Kingdom of God. Children are taught to obey parents’ wishes over God’s calling – thus avoiding ‘persecution’. I’ve heard of one instance in which a well-know “Pastor” counseled a young adult man who felt a call to missions work, but whose unbelieving parents were opposed, that maybe he should wait for his parents to have a change of mind and not go.
Where would we, as the Church, as Christians, be, if other Christians had acted in this way, over-all? Surely, Christians in other places and times have also been asked by their parents not to proclaim Jesus lest it be the death of them – or at least the ruin of the parents’ dreams and hopes for their child, which were but infinitesimal gleams of God’s glory in wait for the child, and which actually would come in the way of that glory, if they were attempted?
I do not need to continue. This is sufficient. This is sufficient for you to look around and ask both: where am I compromising Jesus to avoid persecution? where have I been taught to compromise Jesus to avoid persecution? And also, where do I receive hostility or persecution, not for the Name’s sake, but for something, something which may even be opposed to Jesus Christ, which I or others have learned to associate with Him?
It is better that you find these things for yourself (where and if they are present in you). I would do you no service if I tried to think of every one I could imagine, and tell you where it might be. I would be overstepping both my place and my knowledge, and acting to deny you the irreplaceable good of learning how to find these things in your own life – making it more difficult for you to learn to find and to seek God and to follow Him.
Why not accept the persecution by which we witness to Jesus? We cannot witness to Him better by trying to avoid witnessing to Him! Remember: they will drag you before governors and authorities. This will be an opportunity for your testimony. We do not better witness to Jesus by trying to avoid persecution and martyrdom: it is not for nothing that the very word ‘martyr’ mean witness! Thus, that statement just above could well read ‘We do not better witness to Jesus by trying to avoid persecution and witness-ship’.
Copyright 2019 Raina Nightingale