I’ve heard it said that Seventh-day Adventists have a persecution complex. Whether it’s a fair question or not is open to debate, but it’s difficult to be around some Adventists for long without hearing something about persecution.
From the very start of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United States, the founders believed that Bible prophecy pointed to a time when Sabbath keepers will face severe persecution. The introduction of so-called Blue Laws by some municipalities and towns in the 1880s, prohibiting work on Sundays, strengthened this belief and it became part of Adventist DNA.
It appears that some Adventists have developed a passion to watch out for persecution and excitedly sound an alarm if they sense any indication, real or imagined, that it’s just around the corner. I wonder what they made of the *World Watch List 2023, report that 360 million Christians around the world in 2022 were experiencing high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. Of this number, 312 million suffered severe levels (including death) for their faith in Jesus.
Living in Canada, or another developed western country, it’s difficult to conceive of facing daily discrimination or persecution because we believe in Jesus. Yet, it’s the ordeal of 360 million Christians around the world. Persecution against the followers of Jesus is real and it’s happening now.
When we realise that fellow believers in Jesus are experiencing severe discrimination and persecution because of their faith in Him, it is difficult to think that persecution is only about us. When we think of the fuss some of us made during the pandemic claiming that our religious freedom was under threat because churches, along with other public spaces, were temporarily closed, I wonder if we don’t feel a little ashamed of ourselves.
In Canada, it is a privilege to be free to practice our faith, but it does not mean that we do not face challenges. Yes, we have laws in place to protect us from religious discrimination in the workplace and in education, but as the pandemic showed us, these can quickly change. If they do and we face severe challenges to our faith, will we be prepared to remain faithful?
What I have discovered is that faithfulness in the face of severe threats or opposition does not happen because of its severity. It happens because we are accustomed to being faithful, first when faced with lesser things, then with greater things.
It makes sense to me that as we live in a country where we may freely practice our faith, we should habitually exercise our faith in the small things so that we may grow into faithfulness in all things.
Pray for the persecuted.