Question of the Week: How should Christians respond to the events taking place in Afghanistan?
Whenever it comes to events like this, three things are taking place. We are reminded of the reality of persecution, the reality of worldly conflict, and the reality of predictive prophecy.
The Reality of Persecution
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.”
John 16:1-4 (NKJV)
Persecution is never something anyone looks forward to or desires to take place in their lives. To suffer for doing the right thing is the definition of injustice and will never be responded to without the natural emotions that accompany such abuse. Yet biblical author after biblical author mention joy, hope fulfilled, being produced from persecution. The reason for which was explained by our Lord Himself. Speaking initially of the Jews who would crucify Him and turn against those who followed Him, persecution both without and within the church has been a constant for those who genuinely desired an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. The reason for this is simple. They don’t know Him. When Jesus was persecuted, the hostility and distinction between God and mankind could be directed specifically at its source. With the physical absence of Jesus but the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit, that hostility is now directed towards those who love Him. Whether it is overtly hostile ideologies like Islam that are founded upon the denial of Jesus being who He claimed to be, or anything alongside it. The Spirit of Antichrist remains at work like the Apostle John said it would. (John 4:1-3) Those who oppose Christ will desire the oppression and death of those who stand for and with Him. This is not something we desire, but should anticipate like all Christians throughout history have and continue to endure for the same irrational reasons. Our response should be to be thankful for the freedoms we have while we have them. They can be taken away in moments. As we are seeing in nations closer to our own than we realize.
The Reality of Worldly Conflict
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV)
When we see military powers fail and others triumph, so much is read into so little that it feels like your own nation has been conquered. Instead of falling into despair, the Christian perspective towards warfare of any kind isn’t the reputation of our nation, but the means by which we wage war. We don’t invade our enemies. We talk to them. We don’t kill our enemies. We address their arguments against what we’re talking about. We don’t conquer. We convert. The more we focus on our war, the less the wars of the nations around us will serve as distractions from our job.
The Reality of Predictive Prophecy
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:3-14 (NKJV)
As we get closer to the return of our Lord, things like this will only grow more intense and frequent like the sorrows (literally birth pangs) described here. The advantage predictive prophecy gives us is first the opportunity to avoid being caught off guard by these things. If you expect something to happen, it won’t surprise you. Likewise, the purpose of predictive prophecy is to show that our God saw these things were going to take place a long time ago and it didn’t cause Him to panic and change His purposes for His church and this world. If He isn’t thrown off by these things, we shouldn’t either. Our trust in God. will be directly proportional to our understanding of how trustworthy He is. Use these times of uncertainty to know where yours takes place. Focus on the little things regarding your relationship with God and you’ll find they will come directly into play concerning the “bigger” things. Remember where your hope comes from, and live accordingly.
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Luke 21:28 (NKJV)
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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