Previously, I wrote on the importance of remembering our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, beaten and imprisoned for the faith we share. I exhorted you to remember to lift them up in prayer, remembering their difficulties and seeking to act on their behalf. As the body of Christ, we are to remember and pray for each other. When we are united “in one spirit, one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel” despite being thousands of miles apart, our enemy knows it as a sign of his destruction.
However, it can be a difficult thing to remember when we live in the comforts of America and, particularly, the Bible Belt as I do. We have the privilege of gathering freely and frequently to worship and fearlessly singing words like, “We believe our God is Jesus! We believe that he is Lord!” We don’t have to worry that the gestapo will burst into our gatherings to drag us off to jail, and because that is the case, we are so easily led to believe that it’s this way for others and it will always be this way for us.
Protecting our countrymen from persecution
America is an anomaly in this sense. For the past two centuries, we have been given the freedom to assemble without fear, no matter our religious preference. And though there are differences between Christians and Muslims and Mormons and Catholics, we appreciate the gift we all have–the freedom of religion and belief. Therefore, it is increasingly important that we not only remember the plight of our persecuted brethren around the world, but also guard the religious rights of our countrymen.
I am reminded of the words of the Protestant pastor, Martin Niemöller, who strongly opposed the nazification, as it were, of German churches.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
If we allow ourselves to maintain a state of mind that only looks after the good of Christians in America, we are doing no one any favors. If we do not speak up for our Catholic and Mormon neighbors’ right to worship according to their traditions and consciences, we shoot ourselves in the foot. Their freedom is our freedom.
Though our Muslim and Jewish neighbors do not believe, as we do, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross and rose to pay the penalty of our sins, we have common ground in upholding traditional views of marriage and the family. It is on that ground that we are able to stand side by side and fight against the secularism that is defining this age. As Albert Mohler recently said in an address delivered at Brigham Young University, “I do not believe that we are going to heaven together, but I do believe we may go to jail together.”
So we must take care to remember those who are violently persecuted now – those in countries like North Korea, South Sudan and Eritrea – and prepare ourselves for the fight that is coming our way. As we live in a country that is increasingly embracing secularism, we must prepare ourselves and our children for increasing hostility toward what we believe. We must prepare to stand with Muslims and Mormons, not as those united by a common faith, but at those fighting for religious liberty.