8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
When Paul wrote those words, he was speaking to a church which had and would continue to encounter prejudice and persecution from the people of the world – much like the world we live in.
Understand, America's persecution is not like that of Ugandan Pastor Umar Mulinde who had acid thrown in his face. We have not experienced the pain of Eva Abdullah, a 17-year-old girl from Tanzania who has been disowned by her parents and jailed for two years for having insulted the Koran. We are not in mourning like the family of Egyptian Refaat Eskander who was murdered hours after propaganda promised a bounty to anyone who kills Christian Copts.
Even so, in a 140-page report released by the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute maintains America's Christians are being persecuted. The report cites examples like that
* of a federal judge, who threatened to jail a high-school valedictorian, if "Jesus" wasn't removed from her graduation speech,
* or city officials, who stopped seniors from praying over meals, listening to religious messages, or singing Gospel songs at their activities center,
* or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which wanted to forbid a pastor from praying or referring to Jesus during a Memorial Day ceremony and
* a federal judge, who said prayers before a State House of Representatives could be made to Allah but not to Jesus.
Quite frankly, I can't tell you which form of persecution is worse. I know which one is more violent, but I don't know whether violence or slowly undermining freedom of speech and religion is more effective.
I may not live long enough to get a complete answer to that question.
But my children will and so will my grandchildren. Again and again we hear politicians and economists talk about the financial debts and burdens we are leaving those who come after us. If the figures they quote are correct, our descendants will indeed be carrying a heavy burden.
But that burden is minor and of little consequence when compared to the spiritual threat that will come to those who live in a society which has proudly declared its delusional independence from God.
That is why I find myself crying out to God that our country would once again turn its heart, soul and mind back to God.
Dear Lord, We pray that our nations' leaders and citizens repent of their unbelief and be brought to the knowledge that only through You there is salvation and hope. Protect our loved ones from persecution. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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