Main, Opinion, Persecution, z307
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Our other COVID fear: Do we still have rights?

You have probably heard the news about people in Australia who are demonstrating in the streets. Their concern is something about COVID restrictions, and the way their government treats them.

I am not Australian, and I’m not a medical specialist, but there seems to be a growing fear around the world. People are concerned about the loss of their rights, with restrictions for safety, in a health emergency.

A few days ago, I was driving in a town close to where I live, and I saw some people holding signs. I saw only three people holding signs, near the courthouse. They were friendly, and they waved at the cars driving by. Probably they were demonstrating about civil rights and COVID restrictions.

We all hope that COVID will dry up and go away soon. Eventually it will. Where I live, due to health-care restrictions, there is a debate about our rights. That includes the three friendly demonstrators that I saw, and the crowds can be much larger, and less friendly. We also get advertising from the Government, arguing against the people who argue against them.

I wish this wasn’t happening, but it is.

So, besides a threat from a virus, are we in danger of losing our rights? Is persecution a possibility?

I don’t know if this is true, but many people are convinced, including the three friendly demonstrators, and those crowds in Australia. Many people believe we are being persecuted.

The machinery is in place, with COVID restrictions.

If the skeptics are correct, we can expect restrictions for other reasons because the machine can continue to operate. Some people see COVID strife as a rehearsal. After the virus is tamed, what will we argue about? What lessons did we learn?

Christians have a promise, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) We are told this is a sure thing.

This is not a good time to encourage conspiracy theories, but persecution is common in our modern world, and we should all learn that lesson. People can be oppressed because of what they believe, and that means more than convictions about viruses and vaccines.

We can know what is happening, through the Internet, and with cameras in cellphones. Technology has made secret things open to us all.

Recently, a few brave journalists tried to expose the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. This is a clear picture of people being punished because of what they believe. I am not a member of that group, but it’s easy to feel sorry for these people. We can all wonder if this might happen to us, some day:

In another country, Algeria, the majority is Muslim, but there is a large and growing Christian community. Apparently they are mostly in the Kabyle region, just east of the capital city. We can see the police forcing Christians out of their church, so they can lock the building and keep them out. We can also see Christians meeting in a tent because their church building is locked to them.

And in Mexico, of all places, someone found a group of Christians who were forced to move their families into a horse barn. They didn’t have the same beliefs as the majority, and they were expelled from their homes:

READ: Mexico: Expelled Christians living in a barn

There are at least two important lessons for us in these persecution stories.

1) Never despise the day of small beginnings.

Small groups that don’t fit with the majority, are the majority. They have most of the members who believe sincerely and actively. The old name for the majority is “my church that I don’t go to.” Also, many small groups are growing, and they are the future majority. Most of us can trace back to small beginnings in our own family tree. We should know how we got here. The future is on the fringe.

2) Be good enough to earn persecution:

I just looked up at my door, and wondered what it would be like if the police ripped that door from its frame, and handcuffed me.

Why would they bother?

Is there enough truth in me for someone to disagree?

We should all have some truth in us that we hold on to, even in persecution. For me, as a Christian, I know I should believe in the person of Jesus, and follow him. That’s different from belonging to a church and following the rules. I could give that up, with enough pressure.

So, there may be some valuable lessons, in our COVID crisis. I saw three people who truly believed, holding up signs in that town.

The one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13)

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