Monday, August 31, 2015

Why Are You Persecuting Me? - a review

Why Are You Persecuting Me?

A Christian Response to Hostility and Persecution

A Bible Study from
The Commission on Theology and Church Relations
of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

In 2014 the CTCR published a six-part Bible study in response to a request to examine hostility towards Christians. Such hostility is present around the world and in our own country. The title to the study is “Why Are You Persecuting Me? A Christian Response to Hostility and Persecution” I have just finished it.

This is an excellent and comprehensive treatment of the subject and is something of a blend between a sermon, a Bible study and a survey of persecution from New Testament times to today. The documentation includes first-rate internet links to resources at the end of the study. Perhaps the best way to give you a taste of the study is to provide a few quotes.

In the past decade, the Christian population of the city of Mosul in Iraq dropped from 35,000 to 3000; more recently these remaining Christians fled after ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria) militants took control of the city. In Iraq and Syria, ISIS militants demanded that Christians convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, leave, or face death. (3)

The world that hates us needs our witness and our prayers. In 1523, an Augustinian monk and pastor, Henry of Z├╝tphen, was arrested in Antwerp for embracing the evangelical faith of the Reformation. He was freed and continued preaching in other cities, but two years later Henry was kidnapped and murdered by an angry, drunken mob. After Henry was martyred, Martin Luther wrote to the Christians in Bremen to console them at the death of their pastor. Brother Henry was with the Lord; it was his murderers who needed the prayers of the Bremen Christians: “His murderers have already been repaid enough and more than enough by staining their hands so terribly with innocent blood and heaping upon themselves such great and awful guilt in the sight of God. There is really far more reason to weep and lament for them than for the sainted Henry, and to pray that not only they, but the whole land of Dithmarschen, may be converted and come to the knowledge of the truth.” God could use even the evil deeds of Henry’s murderers “to strengthen his Word so that it wins more people than it otherwise would.”(9)

In a wave of anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal in India, churches were desecrated and destroyed, Christian homes were burned, and hundreds of Christians were tortured and murdered. Yet a man who had been part of a mob later said of the Christians, “They are still suffering. But they have no complaints and they are living happily . . . If Jesus could influence people’s lives to such an extent, I would prefer to be part of that faith.” Another man said, “I have seen the violence and their suffering. Yet they have not given up their faith. So I decided to embrace their faith.” (10)

One of  the many features I found enlightening was the treatment of the Lord’s Prayer as a prayer for the persecuted. (Of course, Lutheran’s never tire of finding spiritual gold in the Lord’s Prayer.)

Again, two thumbs up.

Want to read the study? Just follow the link.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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