Fox Sports Offers Test in Persevering Persecution
I applaud broadcaster Craig James for airing his Christian view of marriage on national news. Unfortunately, his employer, Fox Sports didn’t share my praise, firing him immediately. Although this seems unfair, the fact is God’s men must expect persecution.
Although in the US, we don’t often see, hear or experience persecution because of our faith, Christians suffer around the world for believing in, and following, Jesus. Take a glance at www.persecution.org, and you’ll see examples daily.
Our enemy has tried to sabotage God’s plan from day one. Christians share a faith of love and hope, yet the world would rather trump that message with a self-absorbed, hedonistic, “you only live once” religion that accommodates everyone with a bland, empty faith. Instead of turning to God, the world wants to push Him away and punish those who follow His loving teaching.
It’s a weird irony, nevertheless, the Bible warns Christians several times to expect hard times.
In 2 Timothy 3:12 we read, “...everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
In John 16:33 Jesus says point-blank “...In this world you will have trouble.” And, in the second half the verse, he gives God’s men the key to persevering under persecution, saying “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I believe God’s man will increasingly experience persecution. Here are a few tips on how to persevere:
If you live out your faith, publicly and authentically, you will be persecuted. It may start with being excluded, then escalate to being ridiculed, and eventually may impact your livelihood. Christians are counter-cultural. We love others and pray for our enemies, when the world says to fend for your-self. Christians give, the world takes. Christians seek God’s spirit, the world seeks self-interest. Christians pursue morality, the world defends sin. It goes on and on...God’s man must live in the world, but not be “of the world.”
Back it up.
Sooner or later, you will be asked why you believe what you believe. Be ready to back it up. Know society holds a virtual grudge, but know the Word provides the wisdom to deploy grace. Use the “double-edged sword” wisely, with love, and trust God to do the rest. When Satan challenged Jesus to his face, instead of punching Satan in the nose, or calling the host of angels to attack, Jesus quoted scripture.
But, we’re not expected to be expert theologians either. Jesus called us to be “witnesses” so just tell your story. Nobody can argue with a true story.
Additionally, Jesus urges us to “take heart” because He has “overcome the world.” This statement gives me the backbone to back up my faith with the knowledge of God’s eternal plan. I hope it does for you too.
Look beyond it.
When someone confronts you on an issue, there is always a deeper question being tested. It’s not always about the surface issue. It’s usually about someone’s personal or corporate position with regards to moral issues. Ultimately, it’s about someone’s private fear of you being right, because if you’re right, there are implications.
For example, Mr. James shared his beliefs about a “Christian” marriage, which is an institution that has survived all of time. In fact, a healthy Christian marriage may be one of the single best answers to solving the world’s problems including the cycle of poverty, incarceration, domestic violence, unwanted pregnancy and other teenage troubles -- to name a few.
But James wasn’t fired for airing this faith in marriage. He was fired for deeper issues. The network has a long-standing history of liberal coverage, and I’m guessing the executives couldn’t continually face themselves in the mirror.
Look forward to blessing.
In Matthew 5, the famous “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus taught that blessing awaits those who stand up for our faith. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The fact is light exposes. Holiness exposes unholiness. Because of our faith, others will persecute us because they have to face their own unholiness. The key is to be gracious. It’s not about winning an argument. In the end, people need to know there’s a way, there’s love, and there’s hope. If you expect persecution, back up your faith and share your story, God will do the rest -- which includes blessing.
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Kenny Luck is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in California, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men’s ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint, and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men’s ministry. Watch Kenny’s teachings at EveryManMinistries.com.