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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Is It Persecution or Is It a Random Act of Circumstance?

Imagine having spoiled milk in your refrigerator. You want a glass of milk so you go to the frig. The smell tells you right away that you shouldn't drink it. But instead of throwing it away, you put it back in the refrigerator. Guess what happens the next time you want a glass of milk? The milk is still spoiled.

Sometimes I forget that the world is fallen. It has been corrupted by sin. All of creation suffered in the Fall. The world still has a remnant of its "good" creation but also contains the evil brought in by the Fall. Thus, you cannot count on the world to give you good. It continues to produce bad. No matter how many times you ask the world for something good, you have to remember that it has yet to be redeemed. It has been spoiled and will remain spoiled until it is redeemed.

Those who wish to live godly lives will find the world persecuting them. It may be through the greed of their employers. It may be the hatred of their neighbors. It may be through what appears to be random acts of evil. Yet, the world hunts down the godly to discourage and end their godliness. The world seeks to have each person like it is. The world is corrupted and getting worse.

I used to think that persecution had to be volitional. Many times it is. But sometimes things happen which knock you don't to your knees that seem like random acts. You set out to live a godly life and you lose your job. Your former employer doesn't have a vendetta against you. He or she is merely downsizing without regard to your status. Your employer doesn't know that you have recently made a commitment to tithe. It sure feels like persecution. It feels like there is someone who knows when and how to hit me. It feels like there is someone who wants me to forget my faith and live a life apart from God. Do seemingly random events have a purpose? Is this persecution? Is the time these things happen precise or is it merely random circumstances?

Of course, there is a danger in saying that every unwanted event is an act of Satan. Therefore, Satan gave me a flat on the way to work today and Satan caused it to rain on my wedding day, etc. But on the other hand why should I praise God when I see someone healed if the world only contains activities of  coincidences? When are events seen as the acts of God or Satan?

Job interpreted his hardship to God. He had lived a godly life yet his family, wealth and health were taken from him. He didn't understand why these things had happened but he didn't see them as merely random acts. He knew that God had blessed him. He knew that he no longer had God's blessing. Was Job being persecuted? It sure seems so.

So, when do you see hardship as persecution? This requires godly discernment. The same set of circumstances may produce different results. A tornado may just be the result of a fallen world. The loss of a job may be the work of the world's persecution. One is something that happens to everyone. The other is particularly for you.

This must be the wisdom of the Spirit. No earthly wisdom can discern whether an event is from the world, Satan or even from God. What appears to be a blessing may, in fact, turn out to be something very bad. What looked like destruction reveals the grace of God. Sure, they are easier to discern in the rear view mirror but God doesn't want us floundering around wondering if there is any meaning in the things which befall us.

Suppose you have lived a godly life and get cancer. You suffer through the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. You endure the surgeries. Things continually get worse no matter what you do. You may not know why you are going through this. You have prayed and had countless others praying for you. Yet, you do not realize those who are watching you. The grandson or granddaughter whose faith is in doubt is taking note of your faith as you go through your difficulty. Is this persecution or an opportunity to give a final strong witness to those whom you love? The answer is not one or the other. The answer is "yes." That must be revealed by the Spirit.

So the world will remain fallen. There will be tribulation in it. There will be persecution through it. and God, by the Spirit, reveals what is going on.

1 Corinthians 2:6-13 (ESV)
6  Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7  But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8  None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9  But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10  these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11  For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

1 comment:

Anthony Chia said...

The world is a complex system, and it is a corrupted system, and so, once corruption has set in through The Fall, chaos is in the world. The corrupted human race adds all sorts of "multiplier effects" to the whole works of corruption, started by Satan. Just as God is at work, Satan is still at work, too. Many things of corruption have been set into motion by Satan; they were set into motion by Satan, but it does NOT necessarily be that Satan must be actively working at every bad thing that is happening. Well, an analogy is this: You fill the electric kettle with water, plug it in, and flip the switch, and you walk away. You have set into motion for boiled water, and you eventually get the boiled water, even if you are no longer actively working on the scene. The water gets boiled and then the kettle switches off, when it is done; you, you could be sitting on your sofa, reading away, a book, while the boiling was taking place.

So? So, know that fallen-ness is still working its way in the world, but at the same time God has set into motion, too, His plan of redemption, and the latter, too, will be working its way in the world. There is an opposition or war going on, between Holiness and Evil. Evil wants to perpetuate evil; and God, righteousness. Not only evil is working against righteous, evil is chaotic; meaning even if you are NOT on the righteous side (God's side), evil can still hit you, for evil is chaotic, and it only seeks to steal, kill and destroy.

Persecution can be looked at like gravity; gravity works against you when you advance upwards. When you are being righteous, similarly, persecution is at work against you, but there is a difference between gravity and persecution, for gravity aids you when you advance downwards, but persecution does NOT necessarily cease altogether, even though we may not necessarily call it persecution anymore.It may NOT be called persecution, but evil principality is still against you, ultimately. You are still in trouble, ultimately, because Evil is no true friend or lover, because its motive is against you, even when you are NOT on God's side. Whereas God's motive is for you, for He loves you and I unto righteousness ('ahab love).

Jesus said, in this world we will have trouble; we must NOT bury our head in the sand, but face up to it. We have to recognise that our earthly lives are a temporal journey, and God's word for us is to continue to live overcomingly. So, that is what we have to and should do, regardless, what hits us (loss of job, cancer or other sicknesses or imminent death) - live overcomingly.

To live overcomingly is commanded of us, and we can count on God to help us, but we have to follow after the Spirit. And so, Scripture said those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God.

Regardless, we are NOT given a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and self-control; and Paul said (in 2 Tim 1:8), "join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God."

Love God is the secret to your well-being, for God said, "Because he loves me, I will be with him in trouble" and more - Ps 91:14-16

Be of good cheer; life is worth living, just because He lives.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions