Every one of us has our own trials, our own triumphs. We have things that are easy for us to do and things that take everything we’ve got – and sometimes more. We all face discouragement, opposition, persecution. Normally, when we hear the word “persecution,” we think back to Bible stories of Joseph being imprisoned even after earning Potiphar’s trust or David fleeing first from Saul and then from Absalom even though he was the rightful king or Stephen being stoned to death by Paul before his conversion, or Paul himself being imprisoned time and time again for preaching his faith. Or else we think about more modern examples like Pastor Saeed Abedini being imprisoned for years because of his unwavering dedication to Christ or the students at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, faced with the ultimate decision between life in this world or the next just a few days ago. Then we look at the “persecution” we face in our own lives, and we feel a bit ashamed of ourselves. There are Christians all across the world who are dying for their faith, and we look at our cushy American lifestyle and ask ourselves why it’s so hard to be a Christian here when, for the most part, we don’t really face any danger apart from a few nasty comments when we take a stand.
While it may not look like it, there is persecution going on in your life. It doesn’t look like persecution, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. In fact, I’d say this type of persecution is even more damaging to Christianity than “regular” persecution is. You see, the persecution against American Christians isn’t waged out in the open, it’s waged within your own mind. Here in America, people aren’t imprisoned, stoned, executed, or really punished much at all for being a Christian. The main “punishment” inflicted on Christians comes from either the media or social media. Since these lesser attacks don’t seem as threatening to us, we aren’t as vigorous about defending our faith, and so we become complacent, allowing things to slide by that don’t seem super important.
While those things may seem pretty trivial, that’s exactly my point. We aren’t being encouraged to grow, and attempts to discourage us are lukewarm at best when compared to the opposition aimed at Christians in other parts of the world. And lukewarm attempts against Christianity only call for a lukewarm response from Christians. But we should all know what lukewarm Christianity gets us (check out Revelation 3:16 if you don’t).
So where does that leave us? Should we be hoping for more violent attacks on Christianity so that we can have an opportunity to show just how much faith we have? Umm…I think I’ll give a resounding no to that one. What we should be doing is taking a stand in the small things. Don’t compromise, even when it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Don’t just take the easy path when you see it, look for the right one, even if it costs you more than you want to pay. The road to holiness isn’t a highway, it’s a toll road. The farther you travel down it, the more it’s going to cost you, but it’ll take you exactly where you need to go.
So in conclusion, no, we don’t face the kind of persecution that makes everything black and white, but that just makes it even more important to show those around you what exactly it is you stand for, because they won’t be able to tell if you don’t.