A Season of Lent: Persecuted for Righteousness

Learning to accept being hated for loving Christ and one’s fellow man by wanting better for him than he wants for himself…

“After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish[a] to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him.” (John 7:1)

“Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah?”(John 7:25-26)

Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. 10At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate each other,… (Matthew 24:9)

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. 22You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. Truly I tell you, you will not reach all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.… ( Matthew 10:22)

Almighty, everlasting God, look with compassion on all those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake. Grant them grace to carry their cross with patience in the name of Thy beloved Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Let the chalice pass from them is such by Thy holy Will: yet, in all things, may Thy Will be done. Grant to those who persecute, light to see the truth, and the grace of mercy and forgiveness, for they know not what they do. Mary, Mother of Jesus, Comfort of the Afflicted, help thy children in their time of bitter trial. O Lord our God, by the sign of Thy holy cross deliver us from our enemies. Ora Pro Nobis.

Chesterton once observed: “It has been proved a hundred times over that if you really wish to enrage people and make them angry, even unto death, the right way to do it is to tell them that they are all the sons of God. Jesus Christ was crucified, it may be remembered, not because of anything he said about God, but on a charge of saying that a man could in three days pull down and rebuild the Temple.” If we can say anything with certainty, we can say that Christianity and Christians are and will continue to be hated. Christ himself said it. And we see it so with striking evidence in our time. It is underscored for the oldest of us by a preceding time of relative acceptance in the culture which makes the growing demarcation of treatment all the more striking. Yet scripture has always been forthright about how the world has always treated the followers of Christ and Christ’s admonition: “If the world has hated me, they will hate you also”  They hate Christ because he is reminding us all that we were not created to be sons of darkness but sons of Light and that requires that we act in right ways that do not live in slavery to our selfish and wicked tendencies.  They hate Christ because he has rightly defined freedom as being set free from sin: it means that the verdict between darkness and light, this idea that only God has the right to the knowledge of what is good and what is bad has been settled. (John 3:19) And those that hate us do not want to come to the Light and admit how they are living is wrong. They reject Christianity because following Christ means that they must reject deciding what is right and wrong for themselves.

We see in this rejection of Christianity a seeming support for all other religions, bearing in mind, as Chesterton subtly implies, that even Secularism and Atheism are beliefs of their own, worshiping the image of man instead of God. And as Chesterton so aptly puts it: “There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” -G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, Jan. 13, 1906  God puts in us the desire to worship and free will gives us the choice of what.  If we do not choose to worship God, we will, pityingly, be drawn to worshiping something or someone else.

So the good news is that the persecution we endure is for something and someone greater and more wonderful than this present life. Fascinatingly, in a piece of gentle satire, in the style of Chesterton, Max Beerbohm hits upon this truth…

“For that which is hated, and therefore is persecuted, and therefore grows brave, lives on for ever, whilst that which is understood dies in the moment of our understanding of it—dies, as it were, in our awful grasp. Between the horns of this eternal dilemma shivers all the mystery of the jolly visible world, and of that still jollier world which is invisible.” – Max Beerbohm [in the style of G. K. Chesterton], Some Damnable Errors About Christmas, 1912

Men are moved in these things by something far higher and holier than policy; by hatred. -G.K.Chesterton, The War of Gods and Demons. The Everlasting Man, 1925

 

It is a great mistake to suppose that love unites and unifies men. Love diversifies them, because love is directed towards individuality. The thing that really unites men and makes them like to each other is hatred – G. K. Chesterton, The Great Dickens Characters, Charles Dickens, 1906

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.