“Convert or die!” That is the message ISIS is giving to thousands of Christians in Iraq. This is no idle threat; it has been followed up with crucifixions. But this latest and most publicized example of hostility toward Christians is not new or unusual. Jesus told us to expect it. The first time Jesus sent out His disciples to tell people the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven, He warned them:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.” (Matthew 10:16-17)
His warnings were not merely for that first assignment. They pertained to the whole age until His Second Coming:
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted [not “if”] in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:21-23)
Jesus warned of opposition, cautioned His followers to be on their guard and ready to flee, but not to let up in spreading His message without fear.
“So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” (Matthew 10:26-27)
The opposition to Jesus brought by ISIS is bold and direct. The opposition in the United States is subtle and indirect. There has been a groundswell of public pressure brought to bear in opposition to any Christian who might dare to “proclaim [His faith in Jesus] from the roofs.” The First Amendment specifically prohibits congress from making a law restricting the “free expression” of our religion. Nevertheless, bills have been recently introduced in response to the “Hobby Lobby decision” that would do just that.
Do not be surprised. Jesus warned us to expect opposition, even violent opposition but to speak up anyway. He said:
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:32-34)
Please take a moment and pray for those who are suffering and dying right now because they believe in Jesus and follow Him. Thank you.