Conflicts 103: Persecution

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Spiritual Warfare

Christianity is the only faith that considers persecution to be an inherently good thing

  • This isn’t talking about a martyrdom complex
    • The people who vandalize, speak offensively or do anything unlovingly are clearly not following God
  • It is considered honorable among Christians to suffer persecution (Matthew 5:10-12, 1 Corinthians 4:12, James 1:2)
    • Some Christians are fearful of persecution, but that’s mostly because they haven’t been drawing closer to God
  • Jesus doesn’t just encourage suffering under persecution, He practically promises it (John 15:18-20)
    • Throughout Christian history, the Church explodes in influence and population every time it’s shut down or oppressed

When it happens, persecution takes a very predictable turn

  • Every society is initially fine with the Gospel
    • Though you’ll see some opposition, the public perception is that Christians can coexist peacefully
  • Eventually, Satan will inspire them to reject Christians
    • This is a rejection of the message of Jesus, not of anybody in particular
  • The rejection will start slowly, with the loss of status and standing in the community
    • Family and friends won’t understand the Christians, and will slowly alienate from them
    • Certain Christian practices like evangelism won’t be permitted in public places
    • Anyone who calls themselves “Christian” will only do it for the sake of following Jesus
    • Churches will be required to register with governing authorities
  • Soon, the public will find Christianity illegal to practice in public at all
    • Churches will lose their non-profit status unless they comply with certain non-Christian values
    • Evangelism and any public worship will be forbidden
    • Christians will be detained and possibly beaten, usually after a warning or two
  • Eventually, it will become illegal to even be a Christian
    • Depending on the leader that year, this will range from:
      • Incessant government regulations against Christians
      • Imprisonment, torture and blood sport will become a common fate for Christians
      • Re-education programs that Christians are required to attend
      • Constant threat of mass genocide
    • These leaders never last more than a few years, but don’t expect the persecution to let up simply from a power shift
    • At this point, survival skills become vital to preserving the Church

Anticipating persecution is easiest by observing the spiritual decay of the world

  • Satan has created some of the most effective ways to invalidate the Gospel and any good public reputation through Saul Alinsky:
    1. Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have
      • Power comes from either money or people
      • People without power must build it from flesh and blood
    2. Never go outside the expertise of your people
      • It results in confusion, fear and retreat
      • Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone
    3. Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy
      • Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty
    4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules
      • If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters
      • You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules
    5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon
      • There is no defense: it’s irrational and infuriating
      • It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions
    6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy
      • They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more
      • They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones
      • A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag, don’t become old news
    7. Keep the pressure on and never let up
      • Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance
      • As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new
    8. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself
      • Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist
    9. The best tactics develop operations that will keep a constant pressure on the opposition
      • The unceasing pressure gives the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of your campaign
    10. By pushing a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive
      • Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog
    11. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative
      • Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem
    12. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it
      • Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy
      • Go after people and not institutions, people hurt faster than institutions
  • As a Christian, the answer is surprisingly simple when dealing with the followers of Satan:
    1. Stand in the authority of the one true living God
    2. Don’t claim anything that isn’t upon His eternal Word
    3. Be humble, and accept when you don’t have expertise in something
    4. Make sure you’re standing by the standards of the Bible you’re reading, and openly confess your sins when caught
    5. Remember who bought you and at what price, He was completely silent in an all-night kangaroo court
    6. Stand by the truth that you are going to die someday, and be ready to give your life for that cause
    7. No matter what happens, trust the Lord and let the Body aid you when it can
    8. Remember that there’s literally nothing that you can fear from people who can only kill your body
    9. Rely on the Holy Spirit for the patience and willpower that you need
    10. No matter how much you’re antagonized, be a representative of the kingdom of heaven
    11. Ignore the strategies of your enemies, if they don’t fail now they’ll fail by the time Christ returns
    12. You will be hated and misunderstood as a horrible and despicable villain
      • Let your good conduct and works testify for you
      • Let the Holy Spirit say what He wants to say in that hour
  • As evil people take over, pay attention to Philip Zimbardo’s components of society that can magnify evil:
    1. Mindlessly taking the first small step
    2. Dehumanizing others
    3. Feeling anonymous as they carry out others’ wills
    4. Not taking any personal responsibility for their behaviors
    5. Blind obedience to authorities
    6. Adapting to the group’s rules without question
    7. Passively tolerating evil through inaction or indifference
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