Winning By Losing: Kevin H
From 2006 to 2015, it is reported that close to 900,000 Christians were martyred for their faith. Millions and millions more undoubtedly were persecuted, if not outright tortured for their faith. The large majority of these deaths and persecutions occurred in countries with totalitarian systems and/or governments and cultures which are openly hostile to Christianity.
Contemporaneously, there is a significant intersection of countries experiencing high rates of Christian growth where there is also great martyrdom and persecution of Christians. These are lands where Christians have little to no rights or freedoms and spend scant time trying to battle for them. Yet, the Christians living there are leading others to faith in Jesus Christ at numbers much higher than in many lands where Christians are free and sustain political privilege.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” – Matthew 5:38-44
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
It is said that many times those Christians living under great persecution often do not so much ask for prayer to remove the persecution but rather ask for prayer to have the strength to bear the persecution and stay strong in their faith.
Meanwhile in this country, we get all up in arms about our “rights” being violated by masks and vaccines, or that we’re being “invaded” and taken advantage of by “illegal” immigrants, or that others dare think they are still suffering injustices from systems they say are influenced from sins of the past, or that “cowards” and “sociopaths” are disrespecting our exalted national flag and anthem, or that our religious symbols are being removed or threatened to be removed from secular public squares, or that “they” are coming to take away our guns. All the while we compare these “atrocities” with those who suffered under Nazi and other historically ruthless regimes. And we cling to powerful people who while they may be anti-Christ in many of their ways, even those who say their favorite Bible verse is, “an eye for an eye,” directly contradicting Jesus’ admonition that this is no longer the way, but at least they “protect” us and our ways and stand up for our rights.
Is it any wonder why people are fleeing an identity with Christianity at unprecedented rates in this country and the Church is losing her influence in the culture?
(And, no, this loss has little to nothing to do with the media, or the Democrats, or CRT, or BLM, or the LGBTQ+ agenda, or anthem kneelers, or “totalitarian” governments mandating masks.)
Christ won by dying. The Early Church spread the Gospel by wildfire while being known for its love and taking care of those in need, often living under the threat of losing their own lives. The Church today we see is regularly most effective where it abides under real persecution.
The Church, as set by Jesus’ example, wins and advances by love and sacrifice, not by earthly power and an obsession with its own rights and sensibilities and need for control over the culture. For the well-being of our own souls and those of others, may we come to such a needed recognition sooner than later.
Well said, Kevin…all true.
Thanks, Michael. Let’s be victorious losers! 🙂
The biblical way of victory through loss is decidedly unAmerican and as counter to our culture as possible.
It is also extremely difficult to live…but anything else is disobedience…
This will be a tough thread to assimilate….
I’ve mentioned the time i spent in a neighborhood where i was hated overtly. God does repay.
One of the women lost her husband to a stewardess, anther had a heart attack and died and the third developed a terminal cancer.
Do i gloat? Don’t think God allows that luxury….However, it does give some perspective.
Although i cant forget that Scripture says our God takes no pleasure in the deaths of the wicked. I should have prayed more and harder for them.
The words of our Lord as He hung on that cross, “Father, forgive them! They know not what they’re doing.” Without the Holy Spirit working in us, we are so vulnerable to that Serpent.
I think it is very difficult to conclude with certainty that the misfortunes of those who harassed you was definitively God’s “repayment”. Could be or could not be.
What is more important is our reaction to our enemies, both in their good times and bad. This is the hard part – loving them, and even being willing to ‘lose” if that is what God requires of us in the moment. It is often only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to do such things.
Good words – worth pondering, Kevin.
And, yes, i should have prayed more and harder for them…. Obviously, i had some more “growing” to do…..
The thing that is unique about America, in contrast to authoritarian regimes of today or the early church, is that Christians have voting rights and constitutional rights (as do churches).
So, while Christians should not lie, bear false witness, or spread unfounded conspiracies, nor churches speak on things they know nothing about, we have both the right and a stewardship obligation to speak up publicly to defend God’s law and advocate for policies that promote human flourishing, while putting an emphasis on our true mission which is to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I would like to see a biblical participation in the political system also advanced here. Christians are people and our government is a government of the people and for the people.
That is a very.powerful message, Kevin. I really really would like to share it with some of my evangelical friends, however. I worry that just bringing up such truths might upset them. Will they believe those studies? Will they think it’s ‘fake news’? Just reading the words of Jesus in the Bible should be enough to prove that privilege, great numbers of believers, and lack of persecution had nothing at all to do with the spread of Christianity and the growth of the early church! How have Christians been come so blinded by their political affiliations to the truth? It all cones down to our witness, and showing Christ’s love for our neighbors ( whether they are Christian or not).
I agree and I think one of the Christian’s responsibilities in their stewardship both here in America and in other nations where they have rights and freedoms is to engage with and even sometimes within the political system as they can to influence it to reflect God’s values. For some, that may be as simple as voting while others may have the aptitude and availability to engage much further.
But I also think that history shows that when Christians are gifted these privileges, they don’t always handle them so well, and ironically, we often ended up doing a better job honoring God when we are persecuted as opposed to when we have freedoms. We whould know better and it doesn’t have to be that way, but that little thing called our human nature so often gets in the way.
And I think right now we are dealing with a particularly bad season in our country where Christians are allowing their carnal natures to lead them in their political participation.
My husband, myself, my daughter, and her husband stationed here in Oahu had a lengthy discussion last night about vaccine resistance, and why so many more Americans are refusing to wear masks and be vaccinated in America compared to the citizens in other modern developed nations. All four of us are Christians, and all four of us used to be Republican voters who have left the Republican party in the last eight years. We discussed how competitive Americans are compared to other countries, as well as how ‘rugged individualism’ in the U.S. prevents Christians in the U.S. from putting others before themselves( or even treating others as they would like to be treated themselve)s Everything is a competition in America and ‘the winner takes all’ mentality pervades everything we do here. Other countries are more cooperative and their citizens feel more of a responsibility to their communities. Our American evangelical churches have adopted this attitude as well. Christians here are hyper-competitive – it’s tge Amerucan way. Unfirtunately it’s not Our Savior’s way. The “salt of earth” has become worthless. No wonder the evangelical church is shrinking in the U.S.
Thanks, and I totally get your concerns about sharing such a message with your evangelical friends. On my Facebook account, I have chosen over the past few years to share such messages and it has cost me friendships and relationships. I do so in a manner that best tries to avoid personal attacks and keeps the focus on the subjects being discussed as opposed to condemning people as a whole, but it still often is not received well. I’m not saying this is the way for everybody, but it is what I believe God has for me to do.
On the other hand, as a result of my speaking out, I have been able to deepen and even foster new relationships with others who share similar concerns and are glad to see someone speaking to them, and in some cases has given me opportunity to share the Gospel more. Some of these people are evangelical Christians, some are other types of Christians, and others yet are not Christians at all.
Kevin, It is such a balancing act! I will pray for discernment. I love my evangelical sisters and brothers who I shared a pew with for many years.
Yes it is a balancing act which God may desire each and every one of us to balance a little differently depending on our situations.
All true… and nicely said.
I had a tough weekend with two family members whom I care about. They talked about “persecution” and immediately went to guns, Fauci, Democrats, BLM, CRT, Biden, Clintons… for three hours at dinner. I concluded that they have conflated their grievances with persecution… that is, if you don’t agree with their list of grievances, you are persecuting them…
No need to be obedient to the teachings of Jesus when we have the American Dream!
“I concluded that they have conflated their grievances with persecution… that is, if you don’t agree with their list of grievances, you are persecuting them…”
With all the examples of real persecution found in scripture and throughout the world, how can a believer even fall into this “conflating?”
…how can a believer even fall into this “conflating?” <<<
Because we are spoiled rotten, and like most spoiled brats, we are never satisfied and are completely lacking in gratitude.
They think you are persecuting them because if you don’t vote their way, their rights will be taken away. They think you are robbing them of their rights by not agreeing with them and voting their way.
…And you have to agree with EVERYTHING.
Their rights have become their idol. I do appreciate our American rights, but they are a tool, not the goal. Our rights can be used to help us further the Gospel, help the poor, and lead a Christian life but preserving them are not the goal of the Christian life. They are certainly worth preserving, but they are not the point of it all.
Thanks, Duane. And, yeah, I’m familiar with that type.
Spoiled rotten kids often have little to no perspective outside of themselves. I guess it’s not much different with adults.
Is being made to walk the plank a form of persecution?
Spoiled or ignorant?
Em, probably a combination of both. But often times the spoiling sets the stage for the ignorance.
CK, depends on the reason one is made to walk said plank. ☠️
Wow, my brain needs to walk the plank. I changed my name and referred to KevinH as CK. Been eating too much hard tack and rat stew.
Kevin H, er, I mean CK, maybe you should cut back on the rum, too. 🙂
Not more than a couple hours after this article was posted here I saw a good Christian brother post on Facebook that Pakistan was going to start deactivating the phones of people who weren’t vaccinated. He was outraged by such an act and said that others needed to stand against such an outrageous act.
Now, I don’t agree with the Pakastani government making such a move, but frankly I find their egregious persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, even to the point of quite many martyrs, to be far more concerning and outrageous. If I’m going to make the effort to take a stand against something in a foreign country that I know little about, it’s going to be about something far more wicked like this.
I don’t think this Christian brother is the type who is spoiled or even ignorant of the ways of the world. But he has allowed himself to be seemingly fully taken in by the extremes of conspiracy theories that are commonly driven by partisan politics. His perspective has been warped, and I cannot imagine this helps his Christian witness to anybody except those who already share his beliefs in such conspiracy theories.
Did somebody say, “Rum?!!”
Good comments and discussion on this thread.
To piggyback off of some of the comments:
Yes American (especially American Christians) are spoiled rotten. In the minds of many (if not most) American Christians, rights, freedoms, liberty, individualism, and the “American” way of life have become their idols and gods. And everybody (especially the Nones and the Dones) see it. They harp about their rights and individualism and what they want. All they care about is self. Of course, everybody here knows what Scriptures say about self.
Most of these people are basically children, who cry and have a tantrum whey that can’t have their cookie before dinner. In this case, they (and especially their pastors) play the persecution card. The sad thing is that if they keep doing it, it will be like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. So if the hammer of real persecution does drop, they will not know what to do.
As many continue to get all riled up about masks and vaccines and (self-created?) rumors of potential meeting restrictions making a comeback, we would do well to remember our Christian brothers and sisters in a country where until recently they were able to live in relative peace but now are subject to serious harm and persecution: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/august/mozambique-insurgency-attacks-cabo-delgado-pastors-minister.html
In regards to Captain Who?,
Not much of a rum fan, though a nice dark spiced rum is fine once in a while.
A nice single malt scotch for me. Neat of course. Though the experts do recommend adding just a _few_ drops of water to open up the bouquet of aromas.
Kevin H….thanks for the reminder (your comment at 540am). Good to keep our perspective.
“Because we are spoiled rotten, and like most spoiled brats, we are never satisfied and are completely lacking in gratitude.”
One should speak for one’s self.
I am spoiled, but I’m not rotten, because I know that all I’m blessed with comes from the hand of Almighty God, and that all it takes, is for the great roulette wheel of life to flick the little ball into an unfavorable slot, and I’m toast.
I look into the eyes of my little dog and the love he has for me, and we both are content and thankful for this here and now.
It seems to be often missed here that there is a war to fundamentally change America. Our form of government was set up to keep the powerful in check and allow individuals the liberty to pursue happiness… I’ll call this form of government a Constitutional Republic with democratically elected representatives for lack of a better way of saying it. Some want to abolish this form of government for some type of socialism and are using every sin, mistake, or foible America has made to justify it even if they have to make it up. Many Christians see the demonic nature in this and would like to stop it because it’s not the answer and won’t help the world.
The Constitution and the pursuit of happiness is a good thing for a moral people but using it to force people to call a man a woman or vice versa or promoting CRT or lgbtq is not moral. And by the way, some health workers have a couple of months to get the experimental vaccine or lose their jobs so it’s kind of a big deal.
Socialism isn’t the answer because the change that is needed is not external but internal.
The Gospel is the answer because it’s the only thing that has the power to change hearts.
I think the theme you’re using ‘winning by losing’ is out of context to what is really going on and is being used to silence.
“Socialism isn’t the answer because the change that is needed is not external but internal.
The Gospel is the answer because it’s the only thing that has the power to change hearts.”
This is just so stupid I don’t understand why people keep saying it.
If the Gospel is the only solution to political concerns then there are no solutions…unless you expect mass conversions to a common faith that all agree on and all agree on its application to those concerns.
In that case you are expecting the eschaton and the King..
Social security is a ‘socialist” program that I am very grateful for…as well as the ‘”socialized medicine” in Oregon that has kept me alive…
Please show me with specifics where in my post I speak favorably about socialism or even address it in any manner?
And the Gospel isn’t the answer to socialism anymore as it is the answer to capitalism as these things are of inherently different sorts. One is the reality of salvation for our souls and the other is a governmental economic system. It’s like saying bananas are the answer to quantum physics.
I should have included socialism in my list of boogeymen in my post from a few weeks ago.
It’s an ongoing theme on this blog. See above.
You can call it socially liberal if you want but it’s the same thing.
It’s one thing to be thankful for social security and the treatment you received (and I’m thankful you did) and another to fundamentally want to change America because of the Critical Race Theory boogeyman and other lies.
Technically, social security or a state run insurance exchange is not socialism.
It might be a step towards socialism, but it’s not socialism.
Being socially liberal and being a socialist are very different things.
CRT fever is just more fear porn…
You didn’t address the point that the Gospel and politics are very different things…
It would make far more sense to address your concerns about socialism here in a post where socialism is actually a subject matter that has some relevance to the initial posting. If you’re right about it being an “ongoing theme” here, then it shouldn’t be hard to find one.
However, since my post has absolutely nothing to do with socialism, or any governmental system for that matter, the points you bring up are pretty much irrelevant to the subject matter of discussion.
All the more, as Michael just stated, socialism and being socially liberal are far from the same thing. Even at that, my posting had nothing to do with being socially liberal, so again, irrelevant to the discussion.
“Our form of government was set up to keep the powerful in check and allow individuals the liberty to pursue happiness…”
Coming from a conservative this is laughable. The policies of the GOP do nothing but grow and solidly power in the hands of the top 5%. In fact you elected a guy who paid less taxes for decades than 90%+ of the W-2 working people, who exercised his presidency to give himself and is billionaire friends even more tax breaks.
What is the promise of the “powerful:” “trust us, we are the job creators. We shouldn’t pay the same percentage of our wealth in taxes as you, because need to keep it to create jobs for you; trust Us!” Work for pennies and we will protect your rights to guns and religion. Meanwhile, they shipped all the jobs overseas, and hired educated workers from abroad, because they are less expensive and in our “happiness” we’re dropping out of school and medicating on Meth, alcohol and opioids.
The GOP offers empty, vaporous, bankrupt policies for working people. Heck their highest goal is to repeal, with no replacement, the ACA.
Meanwhile, the GOP has no plan to close the education gap that is literally destroying our economy.
While the working class deals with crime, the elite live in gated communities and on yachts and private planes with private security and law enforcement at their beck in call.
That are not a defenders of happiness nor freedom. They have convinced you to insist on having a king.
Politics will destroy us… It may have already happened.
In fact, it’s worse than not having an education plan. There is a sizable percentage of the GOP that would rather listen to talk show hosts and My Pillow than what our world class educational institutions have to say regarding the greatest health challenge that our country has faced in more than 100 years.
Your adversity to education and science leaves you and our country at risk economically, health wise, and in national security. You are exposing yourself to foreign state actors who want nothing more than to sow division and handicap our fight against Covid by inserting ridiculous ideas and theories into our national discourse.
As much as I could amen Jean’s screed against the GOP, I could indict the other side with as much vitriol.
There are no leaders, no good guys.
I’m going to worry about the church and leave the rest to those who think they are called.
Jean therein lies the problem. You trust our educational system and the DNC as the truth-tellers. I don’t trust them or the GOP. Beware the leaven…
You are correct Michael. I was triggered by the hypocrisy of our conservative brothers. I am sick and tired of hearing that only one side is patriotic or for American values. But you are correct that there are weaknesses on both sides.
Where did I say I trust the DNC?
Regarding our educational system, you bet I trust it and you should too. It enables our economy, our national defense and the future of our children. As a nation, our position in the world is dependent on our educational system. As a planet, the habitability the earth will depend on the educational systems of the developed nations.
I hope that the futures for Christian youth consists of more than aspiring to be a prepper. Why couldn’t Christian youth be encouraged to participate in the economy and advancements that may, God willing, preserve and sustain our nation and planet.
Jean you made it sound like it’s all the GOP’s fault and everything happened under Trump. Trump was a result of the crap. If you added the DNC to the screed I could have agreed except for the parts where you wrongly judged me.
As far as our educational system it has too much systemic racism. /s
I left conservatism because of its romance with Ayn Rand and her ideas, I realized her beliefs are the completion of conservative thinking. For those not familiar, Ayn Rand’s philosophy is completely opposite to the teachings of Christ.
Jean will be pleased to know that the my pillow guy is banned from FoxNews…..
I don’t watch any tv news…but that guy is nuts.
“Social security is a ‘socialist” program that I am very grateful for…”
I’m with you Michael, and I also think that Franklin Roosevelt was the best President of the 20th century.