“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For great reward awaits you in Heaven. And remember the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” — Matthew 5:11
A variety of complaints against the Atlanta-based company, Chick-fil-A, coalesced this month. The first of these complaints was the decision by a Chick-fil-A operator in Pennsylvania to supply food to an event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which has worked to defeat gay marriage initiatives and has become a lightning rod for gay rights groups.
A second complaint was a blogger’s contention that Chick-fil-A’s WinShape Foundation does not admit gay couples to marriage counseling. For some gay activists, these are just more reasons to avoid the company’s chicken sandwiches and conservative ways.
Because of the Christian convictions of the owner of the Chick-fil-A restaurants, homosexual groups all over the U.S. have called for boycotts. It is obvious that it is not tolerance that these groups seek, but “forced neutrality.” Persecution of those with Christian convictions is alive and well in our country.
How should we view persecution when it comes our way? What should be our first response? Jesus, in His sermon on the mount to His followers, gives us insight into how we should respond to this type of injustice.
We should be joyous and very glad when we are subjected to the injustice and abuse of persecution. Persecution verifies the reality of our convictions. It demonstrates that our lives are having a positive impact on our culture. It identifies us with those of the past who have lived obediently and transparently in a world of opposition.
Our willingness to do what is right and live counter-culturally will ensure that persecution will be a part of our lives. This is not a bad thing! As fire strengthens steel, so persecution strengthens the Church. Tertullian observed, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
Many of us have been praying that the Church in America would regain the strength that it once possessed. This may be how that prayer is answered…corporately and individually. Can we live in joy if this is the way God chooses to strengthen His Church in these last days?
Are we willing to rejoice through the “small oppositions” we face in our lives daily? If others are to see the reality of the presence of God in our lives, we must rejoice when difficult days come.
I will praise Him in the storm. How about you?