Taking Up My Cross: Persecution

Disciples are not better than their teacher, and slaves are not better than their master.25 It is enough for disciples to be like their teacher and for slaves to be like their master. If people call the head of the family Satan, what will they say about the rest of the family?”               Matthew 10:24-25 (CEV)

I have been praying this morning and it is that I might communicate what God has put into my spirit to share. This is for those of us who live in the Western world. We live without a daily threat from a government who determines who and how we will express our faith. But we do have an enemy who wants to undermine our worship and relationship with God. That enemy is our own flesh and mind.

When we here in the Western world consider “persecution,” we usually point our fingers at our own government and speak of the “Founding Fathers” who penned The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States with their eyes and ears tuned into God. However, if we take the time to read the biographies of these men, we find that many of them, including Thomas Jefferson, were not conservative, evangelical Christians. Some were not God-believing Christians at all. Like many people today, they had felt the condemnation of the “bureaucratic” church, which had little to do with God’s Church, and so they were determined to create a nation and a government that would not tell people how, who and when to worship.

Despite what we may personally think about individual politicians in the 21st century, our government still does not tell me who, how and when to worship. My family and I can attend whatever place of worship we want. We can pray over our meal in a restaurant. My grandchildren can pray before taking a test in school and over their lunch in the school cafeteria. No, their teacher cannot lead them in prayer at the beginning of the school day, but then, frankly, as I do not know what their teacher happens to believe, and so I’d rather she/he not lead a prayer but that my grandchildren pray before they leave home to start their day.

Persecution comes into my life every day. It comes from my own mind and emotion.

It lies to me about who I worship. When I become focused on what others have and what I do not have, I am creating a ‘god’ out of stuff! When my personal comfort becomes more important than welcoming the homeless, the seeker and little children into God’s Church, then I am not worshiping Him but keeping a beautiful padded pew for myself.

It lies to me about how I can worship. Have you ever come into church ready to worship and had the choir director/leader begin by introducing two new songs? And they are uptempo, rockin’ numbers, not sweet quiet worship songs!

Worship is not about the music that happens inside a building with a cross on the top of it. Worship is about every minute of every day (Romans 12). If the more quiet, meditative music is what brings me into a spiritual worship, then get a CD or iTunes download of what I want and play it 24/7 in my car and home. If it is hymns I love, those are also available. If I want more Scripture reading or a good deep, challenging sermon, pull out my Bible for study and go online and search the websites. Start a Bible study with one or two others who are also looking and watch it grow!

It lies to me about when I can worship. Some of the most wonderful hours in worship have happened on road trips! I can sing and talk to the LORD in my car really well! I can sing and talk to Him in my bedroom or on my porch. And this is a principle I need to pass along to my children and grandchildren. Corporate worship is what we do in our fellowships on the Sabbath, not in football stadiums on Friday night or in classrooms on Monday morning. But personal worship can happen any where and God is pleased when it happens and no one but He and I know it! (Matthew 6:5-7)

Persecution comes to me when I am distracted and focused on things that are not of God’s plan for my day, my life. If I am thinking about all that “I don’t have” or “I can’t do this” then I am not open to God’s voice saying, “Jody, go here” or “Jody, pray about this” or “Jody, come and be quiet with Me.” God’s will – will be done. I trust Him for His timing.

Mayjesty and Glory written by Thomas Fettke

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