In his latest email newsletter, my pastor included this article. I wanted to share it with you.
A young woman named Crystal O’Connor was standing behind the counter of the pizza place where she worked in a small Indiana town. A man wanders in, and after answering one unexpected question, she finds herself (two days later) unemployed (with the pizza shop out of business), fearful for her life and hated by strangers all over the country.
You know times are changing, friends.
Three weeks ago, legislation was enacted in Indiana that makes it legal for gay customers to boycott Christian businesses, but illegal for Christian businesses to boycott gay customers. An unsuspecting teenaged girl was asked by a reporter if her family’s pizza shop would refuse to sell pizzas for a gay wedding reception, and she said yes, though they’d never been asked to make pizza for any wedding!
In the ensuing firestorm, Christians received death threats, a Christian business was forced to close, and hateful speech filled the airwaves against Christian convictions. Christian politicians scrambled backwards to avoid the angry mobs, and rewrote legislation to ensure that Christians businesses could not boycott customers, but those customers could still boycott Christian businesses.
Here are a few tips from Steve Jones, a pastor friend of mine:
1. Do not fear the worst, and do not assume the best. Trust Christ and be realistic. Worrying is never the right thing to do.
2. Sidestep persecution when you can do it without dishonoring Christ. He counseled his disciples in Matthew 10:23, “If they persecute you in one place, flee to another.” Therefore, even though it is not always possible, it does not dishonor Christ if you simply avoid persecution by getting out of its way.
3. It is not wrong to have enemies. It is wrong to treat others like enemies, but it is not wrong to have enemies. You cannot help it if someone chooses to be your enemy. Jesus would never have told Christians to pray for their enemies if we were supposed to pretend we have none.
4. Don’t ever believe what your enemies tell you about you. When people tell you that you are being hateful for not caving in to their viewpoint, you know that your motivation is not to hate them. When people tell you that your position is unfair, you know that is not true. When people say that you hate them, tell them that you love them. When they deny it, say it anyway. Your job is to speak the truth in love, not to speak the truth only if others agree that you are being loving! Lovingly speaking the truth has brought many thousands to Christ who initially wished that the Christian would just shut up.
5. At the same time, your job is to make sure you are speaking lovingly whenever you give people the truth. It is important to remember that anger is not an argument, and scornfulness convinces no one. People are like candles. They can only be molded if we warm them first.
6. Remember the words of Jesus: “If they hated me, they will hate you.” It is a badge of honor in heavenly realms when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
7. Keep eternity in view (part one): Our present trials are brief and will result in God’s glory forever.
8. Keep eternity in view, (part two): No matter how angry or hateful people may be toward you, remember that they face an eternity without Christ if we don’t love them and share Jesus with them.
9. If it ever comes to the point of active persecution, remember Hebrews 10: “Remember, endure, stand side by side, joyfully accept property confiscation, don’t throw away your confidence, and persevere until you receive what God has promised you.”
10. Always keep in mind (whether persecution comes or not) that Jesus has promised to never leave us, and never forsake us!
11. Whatever troubles we face in this life are “light and momentary afflictions” which are creating for us an “eternal weight of glory!”