“Everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted.” –2 Timothy 3:12
Persecution is nothing new to the believer. Sometimes the attack is blatant and vicious; other times it is more subtle, such as suffering the loss of a job or a life-long friendship because of one’s views regarding Christ and salvation. All kinds of persecution have survived down through the ages, ever since the days of Jesus. These definitely continue on in our world today.
In the United States, we are fortunate to experience mainly subtle persecution. Very little has erupted into out-and-out violence against Christians. But we know it is coming. The Bible warns us to expect it.
There have been several revolutions in Middle Eastern nations over the past few months, mostly involving the uprising of a people against a brutal dictator. While the overthrowing of a dictator is usually a good thing, sometimes the government that emerges is as bad, or worse, than what existed under the dictatorship. Sometimes the object of hatred simply changes from one people to another.
We’ve seen a lot of that hatred towards the Coptic Christians in the months following the uprising in Egypt last February. Young girls are now forced to wear head scarves in school, men have been tortured, women raped, churches burned. More than 100,000 of the most wealthy believers have already fled the country in anticipation of what the future may bring. Experts forecast that if things go wrong in Egypt, it’s going to be a bad signal throughout the middle east.
Most recently, we heard the head of Libya’s National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil announce: “We have adopted Sharia as principle law… Any law that violates Sharia is null and void legally.” Among other things, Sharia law gives men the right to have up to four wives without the consent of the first wife; at the same time, it imposes vast restrictions on women’s rights in Libya.
This appears to be the trend line of the Middle East in immediate history and gives cause for concern for the direction “liberated” nations will head in the future. As Christians, we need to be keenly aware of the dangers and ready to defend our faith. We may not be under violent and physical persecution at this time here in the United States, but God has warned us that it is coming. We must be ready. We must stand on the Word of God.