The Rest of The Way Posts

PERSECUTION BY ASSOCIATION
Thursday, February 18, 2021 by Leona Choy

It has been said that Nero fiddled while the great fire of Rome in AD 64 burned and destroyed much of the city. Check history—the fiddle was not yet invented, but he was a musician and did play the Lyre (a small hand-held harp).

No analogy is perfect, but my blog post viewers are thinkers. You can come to your own conclusions about similarities to today's political scenario. Nero took advantage of the fire [think pandemic] to clamp down on the growing influence of Christians in Rome who were boldly but peacefully making the Gospel known and opposing Nero's evil deeds [think whatever you will]. He arrested, tortured and executed [canceled] hundreds of Christians on the pretext [guilt by association?] that they had something to do with the fire. [Think incitement to insurrection?]

Who or what caused the fire [think January 6, 2021?] is unknown. Legend has long blamed the vicious Emperor Nero [switch characters:think outgoing current administration] for secretly setting the fire and deliberately causing the chaos. Some circumstantial evidence. Proud and vain and ruthless, Nero [think newly elected administration] did not like the aesthetics of the city [think MAGA] and used the devastation of the fire in order to plot its change [think “reset”?] and institute new building codes [current mandates?] throughout the city.

Fueled by high winds, homes burned quickly wiping out entire districts of Rome and lasting six days with heavy loss of life. During the tremendous conflagration and confusion, desecration of Rome's sacred monuments and civil statues and heavy looting took place. [Is there nothing new under the sun?]

Young Pastor Timothy of the New Testament lived in those days of the Early Church. He was mentored by senior pastor Paul, his spiritual father. The aged apostle wrote two letters of instruction and encouragement to his young protege some years apart. Timothy and his infant congregation were in a different situation when Paul wrote his first letter. The Early Church was at first tolerated by Rome according to Rome's policy for its conquered lands. His church flourished in relative peace, even infiltrating the highest civil chambers of Roman government.

Suddenly, there was a turbulent political reset under the administration of Nero. [fast forward comparison to 2020] Christians were running for their lives like animals from the horrific trials, imprisonments, vicious tortures and sadistic, gruesome deaths. Neurotic Nero ruled with an iron hand and allowed no words or deeds of opposition to his executive orders. He spewed pure hatred against the Christians because he saw them as a threat to his own power. [think whatever]

To deflect suspicion from himself as the one who set the fire, Nero enlisted the citizens of Rome who were loyal to himself to do his dirty work for him. Not all of Rome believed Nero's propaganda, but he had enough support [think electoral votes?] so that, convinced by false accusations about Christian practices, his supporters took up torches and hunted down the Christians. [think mob incitement to “cancel” them.]

Fear for their lives caused betrayers, defectors, and deceivers within pastor Timothy's congregation to flee the Church rather than suffer with it. At the same time, fiery trials revealed true disciples. Early writings record that many pagan onlookers were converted to Christ after observing the joyful endurance and deaths of the Christians.

This explains the context of Paul's admonition to Timothy in Paul's letter to him. (2 Timothy 1:8) “Don’t be ashamed to speak for our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, just because I am in jail for serving Him. Use the power that comes from God and join with me in suffering for telling the good news.” (CEV)

A different admonition was needed now—to remain steadfast in his testimony and unashamed to associate with Paul in prison, to courageously “partake of the afflictions” which the entire Christian community was undergoing. Christians were persecuted simply by virtue of their affiliation with “The Way,” as early Christians called the Good News of the Gospel. [think guilt by association today.]

History keeps repeating itself. Statistics reveal the escalation of persecution of Christians in recent centuries: more than 70 million Christians have been martyred in the course of history. “Cancellation” taken to its ultimate—physical death. More than half were martyred in the 20th century under communist and fascist governments. In the 21st century, roughly 100,000 to 160,000 Christians were killed each year. Roughly 1,093,000 Christians were martyred, worldwide, between 2000 and 2010. Can we even wrap our minds around such numbers? (World Christian Database).

I had the rare opportunity during our repeated ministry journeys into the China Mainland to meet families of martyrs and hear and write the stories of China's Christians who presently continue to be persecuted, wrecking balls demolish their churches, leaders are again being imprisoned and sent to labor camps, they suffer discrimination in jobs and careers and academic opportunities. Children are again incited to notify the authorities if their parents are involved in churches. For present Christians in China it is a repeat of the bloody Cultural Revolution of 1966-76. only on steroids.

We met with faithful believers in clandestine house churches as well as in the government-tolerated churches which could only remain open tightly restricted by the government. They were confined to meet only within the their church—no public witness. Pastors were forbidden to preach on certain topics and forced to politicize their sermons. Teaching those under 18 was not allowed. In recent years the communist/atheist government has doubled its fierce crackdown on Christian activity. Another generation is learning to suffer for Christ.

China's Christians told me repeatedly that they were praying for American Christians to be courageous and steadfast when persecution would come to the USA. I admit that sounded generous and compassionate—but far-fetched, given our American freedoms solidly and historically in place through our Constitution.

Fast forward to 2021. Look around with astonishment how quickly our freedoms have vanished and how controlled and restricted we have become in our “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Thank you, Christians of China, for being preemptive with your prayers for us. Suddenly we need them desperately! Behind our mandated masks we are squirming under a strange muzzled cancellation culture such as we have never thought possible. You are our courageous role models!

Lord, have mercy on us in this darkness of attempted global reset and give us wisdom, courage and Your strength to be faithful.

(Some historical context from Life in the Combat Zone by Rick Renner)


Comments

Carole McKinney From Maple Valley At 2/21/2021 5:40:28 PM

My first reaction is to be sad and withdraw into my shell like a turtle. Then I am reminded of God's power over our enemies and my strength is renewed. Thank you for these encouraging words and thoughts.

Reply by: Leona Choy

May you be encouraged to keep on steadfastly living for the Lord,Carole.

Mary Elle From Birmingham, AL At 2/19/2021 11:51:51 PM

Well and cleverly said! Could not agree more! The injustice, slander and shameless corruption is so difficult to watch! We are in a remarkable season...a season of resting and waiting on the Lord. Love and appreciate you, dear Leona.

Reply by: Leona Choy

Keep up your courage and steadfastness in the Lord in the areas of your influence, Mary Ellen.

Dan & Pat Christ - 2 From Kempton At 2/19/2021 7:19:37 PM

Your grasp on all that is/has happened is so very true and amazing. You've experienced so much of it firsthand while in China. Our hearts are so very sad. Yet at the same time we are angry and hating the evil. While knowing that God's greater plan is quickly moving along and His will WILL be done.

Reply by: Leona Choy

Indeed the season is moving quickly prophetically, amazing for us to be living in this generation to watch God's plan unfold.

Yvonne E Low From usa At 2/19/2021 5:19:45 PM

+ I comment to be counted under your logical state of deduction: God is here. God is present and in love with His creation. We shine from within for we have invited His Spirit to dwell in each of us. I remember He has provided a Christian armor for me to wear and bear through difficult times.

Reply by: Leona Choy

Princess Vonnie,You are God's precious and beautiful creation, and He is taking good care of you, "bearing you up in His wings" in these confusing times. Keep trusting Him moment by moment.

BettyVonn Snapp From Stephens City At 2/19/2021 11:23:20 AM

Thank you, Leona. The needed information and encouragement we need in “these days” - stated in your delightful, inimitable way. God bless and keep you, dear one.

Reply by: Leona Choy

Betty, stand courageously in your area of influence for such a time as this. God sees your faithfulness.

Linda Ann Fumea From Hernando, FL At 2/19/2021 7:29:44 AM

I truly don't believe we are being persecuted and to put ourselves in the same category as the saints who are is unrealistic. True freedoms are being taken part of the great agenda of the Evil One, but instead of turning inward and crying poor us, we should praying for the real suffering saints.

Reply by: Leona Choy

Should not the whole Church pray for the whole Church continually whatever they are going through? No one should compare their cross with someone else's. Who is crying "poor us"? I have been in China weeping with the persecuted Church. Jesus said whoever follows Him WILL suffer persecution.

Brenda Fristoe From Winchester Va At 2/19/2021 7:15:32 AM

Leona, thank you for putting today’s current events into perspective based on history. You are an amazing writer and a great friend. God is using your gifts to stir us on!!! May God richly bless you my dear Sister in Christ. Love to you- Brenda

Reply by: Leona Choy

Thank you for your prayers and friendship. How is your writing going? Those grandchildren must be growing up. I'm still hoping you will write the book for women about staying in the passenger seat and not doing the driving. You have so much to say and to praise the Lord.

James Duda From Winchester, VA At 2/19/2021 6:07:03 AM

See email subject "Appeal to Heaven."

Reply by: Leona Choy

I appreciate your prayers and encouragement that I may keep writing what the Lord has on His heart.

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BARNACLES
Leona Choy
6/5/2018