Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July Musings

“God BlessAmerica.”
“Pray for our Nation.”
 Prayers that God would turn our Nation back to him.
 Promises that God will revive our land.
 Prayers that God will bring greater peace and prosperity.


These are the some of the things Christians see, hear, and say during today’s holiday. These are the things I have thought and said during previous 4th of July holidays.
None these things are necessarily bad to pray, but the burden on my heart this Fourth of July is starkly different from any previous. You see, Scripture does not reveal that God will “restore America to its Christian roots.”  When I read scripture, I see the opposite promised. I see the promise that great trail, tribulation, and persecution are coming to the whole world.
I know I write this with the danger of sounding like a frantic harbinger.  I know this probably isn’t the happy Fourth of July post you would expect or want to read. But friends, I cannot ignore scripture. I will not celebrate America’s Independence with my head in the proverbial sand believing that things will get better in the future. To do that, I would have to ignore the Word of God. Knowing the truth of what is to come makes me even more grateful for the freedom I enjoy today.
I began thinking in this way as I read John Piper’s book, Spectacular Sins:
                “Global cataclysms and personal catastrophes are coming. I say this not as one with my finger in the wind, but with my finger in the Bible. ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22) ‘If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you’ (John 15:20). ‘You yourselves know that we are destined for [these afflictions]’ (I Thess. 3:3).  ‘All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Tim. 3:12). We are ‘fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him’ (Rom. 8:17). ‘Not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.’ (Rom. 8:23)”

Scripture doesn’t lead me to believe that there will soon be (this side of the New Earth) a time of peaceful cultural Christianity. In some parts of the world, serious persecution is already happening.

"...hundreds of Christians and their families were slaughtered in 'Nigeria religious violence' – brutally hacked with machetes if they could not or would not identify themselves in the language used mostly by Muslims" {source}

"Christians in Iraq now suffer persecution and even
death as a fall-out from war" {source}

I don’t want to be caught off guard when these things happen. I don't want to think I am in some way better than Christians in other parts of the world and will be spared from persecution. I don’t want to succumb to persecution, because I ignored the Bible’s warnings. I don’t want to be looking up at God with confusion should I be in a position where my life will be taken.
Of course, the scripture doesn't offer an exact time frame, but God has warned me; I believe Him.
Does this mean I am not thankful I live in America? No. Does this mean I am not grateful for the men and women who have fought for the safety and freedom I enjoy? Absolutely not!
But, this does mean that, today, I am praying a different prayer. As I eat burgers and hotdogs, watch fireworks, and spend time with family, I thank God for the freedom I have been blessed with in my lifetime. I ask forgiveness for not using this precious freedom to more urgently to share the Gospel.  I pray that God graces me and other believers with the faith to stand strong in the face of what is to come.

The Bible also tells us that the Beast will win, for a season. “[The Beast] was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them …and … cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.” (Revelation 13:7, 15)

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