The Pharisees persecute you in the church, even today. You probably think they are gone, but I assure you, they exist. Further, they are unfortunately, alive and well in our modern church. You know this if you have a special needs child, have lived through disease, death, divorce, or any sort of traumatic loss. Meet my new friend who went through the wringing of persecution by church Pharisees.
As she tearfully recounts to me at one moment, and then indignantly protests the next, her story moves me. Yet, it also doesn’t surprise me.
You see, this woman has six children right now. Two are not hers, but another relative, who was on crack and she took in her twin daughters. She really didn’t have the money, but she couldn’t just turn away these little girls, who are six years old. But, it gets worse.
This past May, her husband was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Then, he died in June. But before he died, he wanted to sit in the Sunday School room of his children’s classes with them. It was his dying wish. But, the Pastor’s wife refused to let him do it. Why she was making this decision was not clear, but it hurt the whole family.
Now, she refuses to go to church. But, she feels guilty. SHE is the one who feels guilty for the incredibly mean and calloused way she and her family were treated. There is no excuse for God’s children to be mistreated by the church.
Does it make her less of a Christian?
When I hear stories like this, I say it makes her more of one. Far too often, the church is filled with too many Pharisees who throw rocks and stones of religious legalisms. Like, thou shalt not go to Sunday School when you are dying from cancer?! It makes no sense, but they solidly stand on their principles and claim it is God’s Word.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who stones the prophets.
I have seen this play out in my own life, and the life of countless others who stop going to church. It isn’t because they don’t believe in God, or don’t have a deep abiding faith. It is because the rock throwers are still throwing stones, because they stopped looking in the mirror a long time ago.
You don’t have to go to some far away country to find persecution for being a Christian.
Persecution happens all around the world.
While, the rising tide of Islamic extremists have hit us in recent years, general persecution of Christians has risen over all. Last month, the Open Door USA ministry released a World Watch List of 2017 on Christian persecution around the world. It is time we as Christians begin to focus on prayer for these countries and how we can help them.
In some cases, Christian extinction, at least public extinction, is a reality.
Our own persecution reminds us to pray.
When we are going through a personal crisis and the church persecutes us, it deals a striking blow. I know this myself. But, when the Lord heals our wounds, it is a reminder that the Pastor’s wife, Bob the Deacon and Susie the Gossip Queen have missed God’s call on their life. They are persecuting us because they don’t want us to get God’s call in our own life. Yep, it’s evil, but honestly, they are blind and need a “come to Jesus moment.”
They still may not repent, but you know, we can move on. We can pray for them and for those who are persecuted both in this country and around the world. I always try to remember, God is judge and He will bring justice with His Sword to those carry out persecution against His Body.