A few weeks ago I was in Northern India with pastors who have been physically beaten because they converted to Christianity. Many of them have been permanently ostracized from their families and friends because they now follow Jesus.
Before meeting these men I had heard a lot about persecution–usually while reading an article on my MacBook Air or talking with friends about Christianity around the world over a latte. I have had hardships in my life–trials, difficulties–and in some cases thought it may be something akin to persecution. But in the faces of these men, I saw the weighty cost of discipleship. I saw persecution.
And of course, these stories can be multiplied tens of thousands of times over. Just spend an hour or so perusing the website for The Voice of the Martyrs. You’ll read about massacres in Christian churches in Nigeria, imprisonments in Iran, and systematic persecution in Syria. The nature and scope of persecution of Christians around the world is staggering.
But let’s be clear: a multi-millionaire being suspended from his show because of comments he made while being interviewed by GQ is not persecution. Christians losing a favorite reality TV show about ducks is not persecution.
Perhaps the only thing more staggering than the persecution of Christians around the world is how un-persecuted American Christians are. We enjoy more freedom, wealth, privilege, and status than any other Christians, at any other time, in any other place in world history.
Now we certainly have hardships–trials or difficulties that cause us collective concern. What happened with Phil Robertson and with others who have articulated the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality is a good example.
But brothers and sisters, let’s get some perspective. Yes, our society is increasingly secular and our enormous freedom, wealth, privilege, and status is being chipped away at a bit. But crying persecution? Comparing ourselves to the Jews in Nazi Germany? It’s embarrassing.
Let’s broaden our perspective and remember what Christians throughout history (and today!) have faced for confessing the name of Christ. The list of persecutions will be sobering, but I guarantee you the suspension of a reality TV show about ducks will not be anywhere near the top.