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Enduring Persecution

September 23, 2014

Here is good news for my fellow Christians who are sure we are being persecuted for our faith.  Coming in early 2015 they will be able to go on a Caribbean cruise to study up on ways to deal with this persecution.  More precisely, the cruise will be from February 22nd through to February 28th, allowing them to not only escape persecution for a few days but winter too.

The cruise, called the 2015 Caribbean Study Cruise, is sponsored by Ligonier Ministries, the ministry of R.C. Sproul, a man who I have at times admired.  The focus of the cruise is “Persevering in the Christian Life.”  Just to be sure we know what they mean; they tell us it will teach participants about “Christ’s call to endure persecution and suffering faithfully.”

Now the irony of taking a tropical cruise to learn about persecution and how to deal with it has not been lost on any number of commentators.  Articles are all over the internet poking fun at this endeavor.  We are told such things as “Participants will suffer faithfully for Jesus at stops in the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten…”  My first thought, make that wish, was that this was a case of hacking into the Ligonier website to post a spoof but, alas, there actually seems to be such a cruise.

When it comes to persecution one problem we have is that there is no standard definition.  Purists will tell you that if they aren’t trying to kill you then you are not being persecuted.  All the way to the other end of the scale come the folks who cry “religious persecution” when the clerk at Target says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

If there is one characteristic of the cries of persecution coming from American evangelicals I would say that it is seen as a sure-fire future event.  We scour the news for any little event, court ruling, or government act we don’t like and shout how this is the beginning of the persecution of Christians.  The Family Research Council regularly tells anyone who will listen that “we need to be alarmed.”  We are urged by them and others like them to live in continual fear of the coming persecution.

I don’t know the exact definition of persecution, although I tend to lean closer to the “coming to kill you” side of the spectrum.  I have yet to see anything in this country that would rise to the level of persecution and, as I have said before, most of what I see being cried over strikes me more as a loss of a privileged position for our faith than anything else.

But here is one thing I am willing to say – if you have to go on a Caribbean Cruise to discuss and study persecution and suffering, you are probably not being persecuted.

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