“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 NKJV).
Expectedly, I got many reactions to the first part of this message last week. While some people agreed with me, some disagreed. Surprisingly, those that disagreed based their arguments on some passages and instances in the Old Testament and the issues of situational ethics that I deliberately refused to address in the message. Some were even sentimental on the message. I envisaged each of these reactions. The scope of this part of the message cannot satisfactory address each and every reaction to the prevailing issue: should Christian take arms or kill?
Let me clarify here that Christian warfare (which is the thrust of this message) is different from self-defense. Every right-thinking person would defend his/herself if he/she has the capability when faced with danger. Even animals do so! However, only Christians – people that have been genuinely called out of the world to have personal relationship with Jesus Christ – can engage in Christian warfare. Part of Christian warfare is persecution. Jesus Christ reminded His disciples: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…” (John 15:20 NKJV. See also verse 18; Matthew 5:12; Mark 10:30; Luke 6:22). Apostle Paul emphatically told Timothy: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV). The other apostles taught similar things and added that there are rewards for people that persevere under any persecution (see Acts 14:22; Romans 8:35; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; James 1:2-4, 12; 1 Peter 1:6; 4:12-16; Revelation 2:10). Nowhere in the New Testament is any recommendation for using physical means to fight this Christian warfare or any injunction to retaliate evil for evil for people that are persecuting the Christians.
Regarding the situation of the persecution in the northern part of Nigeria and other places throughout the world, the persecuted people can defend themselves if they have the capability. However, to legislate taking of arms or killing of foes from the pulpit is totally strange to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles. Using instances in the Old Testament to justify that is like taking Christians back into what Jesus Christ has fulfilled on the cross.
Persecution is inevitable in Christian life. Only the faithful will be rewarded at the end of the day. However, taking arms and killing foes may help to some extent; putting on the “whole armor of God” will give lasting solution.
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).
Prayer Point: Lord, help me to be faithful in spite of any persecution so that I will have your reward at of the day.