Slander and Joy

Slander and Joy

Written 15 years ago, but very relavent for our situation today.
 
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:12
 
The flood of anti-Christian articles and TV shows in our Middle Eastern country this past month has driven us again to that high and golden standard: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me…Love your enemies, pray for those persecute you…” (Mat. 5:11,44).
Criticism by itself is hard to take, but when it comes in the form of vicious slander from ignorant, hateful, bitter and vengeful people, it is much harder to respond in a godly way. Yet God calls us to give a superhuman reply to persecution, rather than feeling sorry for ourselves.
Just this morning I was reading in Acts 3 where, after the initial arrest, interrogation and release of Peter and John, the church meets and prays, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” That’s the opposite of whining!
Then came another blow here: one who had been a pastor for several years renounced his faith—the outcome, I believe of the unhealthy practice of workers giving a young pastor a salary; when the salary was stopped, the pastor “lost his faith.”
He went on several national TV talk shows where he reinforced all the lies others had been telling about us (people become Christians for money, the workers’ aims are all political, they want to take land away from the country, etc.). He went on to name specific workers, projects and events, exposing many to possible attack. He also has the addresses of many correspondence course contacts he’d been following up on, placing these seekers in danger.
Again, Jesus’ words about such happenings came to mind: “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mat. 5:12).
We are confident that God will somehow use this for good, for spreading His Word across this land. [Epilogue, today, years later there is a genuine awakening going on in this country!]
I’ve been praying Psalm 140 for the situation, especially verses 8 and 9: “…do not grant the wicked their desire…let the heads of those who surround me be covered with the trouble their lips have caused…let not slanderers be established in the land.”
One answer to this prayer came in an interesting way. A reporter for a major newspaper challenged those making outlandish accusations against Christians: “If you say there are 89 house churches in this one area of our city, show them to me one by one, and if you can’t, I’ll call you a liar before everyone!” Unbelievers ended up defending us!
With God’s grace we will continue to rejoice in such persecution while recognizing that in this serious situation we need prayer for His protection and the outworking of events for good.
 
Prayer: “Lord, we need to think your thoughts consistently and constantly; keep us in the Word, responding in faith, in praise and in grace. May you be glorified in every situation. We are weak and that is good; make your power perfect in our weakness. Amen.”
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