Leave, Convert, or Die
Can persecution actually be a good thing?
By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries
The ISIS terrorists in Iraq, as they have invaded more and more territory, have been giving Christians and other non-Muslim religious groups a choice to either leave the area, convert to Islam, or die. Many people around the world are shocked, having thought that proselytization by the sword was a thing of the past. For those with an informed understanding of radical Islam, this insidious form of terrorism should not be a surprise. And, further, for followers of Jesus Christ, this should not be a surprise.
Jesus Himself warned us:
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake." (Matthew 24:9)
"Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!" (Luke 6:22)
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you." (John 15:18)
The apostles echoed Jesus' words:
"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Timothy 3:12)
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." (1 Peter 4:12)
"Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you." (1 John 3:13)
There will come a time when virtually the entire world will persecute followers of Jesus Christ. It will not be limited to the Muslim world. It will not be limited to small cities you've never heard of on the opposite side of the planet. It will be knocking on your front door.
I am not sure if the majority of Christians in the western world are at all prepared for the persecution that will one day arrive. In the West, we've enjoyed hundreds of years of Christianity being the dominant religion and/or being tolerated by those who are not followers of Jesus Christ. Today, the worst persecution most Christians in the West will ever experience is some ridicule from atheists/skeptics.
What our brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing at the hands of ISIS should be a blaring siren of a wake-up call. We should be praying for them and seeing if there is anything we can do to help. But, we also need to realize that could one day be us.
Are we ready to make a leave, convert, or die decision? Which decision would we make? Leaving is an option (Matthew 10:23). Dying is an option (Matthew 24:9). Converting is an option, but it is an option that demonstrates a person was never truly a follower of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:19). Some would add "fight" as a fourth option, but according to the Book of Revelation, "fight" will produce the same result as "die" (Revelation 6:9-11).
As I am sure it is currently producing in our brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq, I hope that the news of the persecution of Christians will also produce in us new perspective and new priorities. History shows that followers of Christ seem to multiply during times of persecution. Why? I say it is because it forces us to focus on what is truly important. Having a virtual, or real, knife at your throat has a way of rearranging your priorities.
If being a Christian is likely going to cost me my life, I better actually live my life for Christ. If following Jesus means going to the cross, I should be proclaiming the cross with my life and my words. If people want to kill me because I am a Christian, they shouldn't have to ask me if I am one.
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Current-Issues | Hardships | Political-Issues | Sin-Evil
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