How To Be A Christian And Avoid Persecution

Here are some good rules for weak souls who want to go to heaven but cannot handle the suffering part. Yes, I know, the Bible teaches that all that live godly shall suffer persecution. Paul wrote: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus also stated that those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness are indeed blessed (See Matt. 5:10-11). However, millions of people, claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ, have learned how to avoid persecution. I have observed over the years how this is done and have put together a list. Of course, none of us want to see others suffer, especially when it can be avoided. I can’t guarantee how these rules will work out in the long run when you actually face Jesus Christ in judgment, but it sure works well in this world. Well, let me take that back. Perhaps, I can guarantee how it will work out in the long run. But here goes anyway . . . .

1. Go to church occasionally, but don’t let it become a habit. This shows others that you are religious but not a radical.

2. Avoid talking to others about religion, for this makes people feel very uncomfortable. They might think that you are judging them. In fact, if possible, it is best to avoid all controversial subjects.

3. Avoid forming strong convictions on religious topics. The best way to accomplish this is don’t spend too much time studying the Bible. Too much knowledge can be a bad thing. Even Paul said that “knowledge makes arrogant” (1 Cor. 8:1). Didn’t Festus say to Paul, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24). Even Solomon warns: “. . . excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body” (Eccles. 12:12).

4. Don’t ever reprove others by using the Bible. If you do this, you are really asking for trouble. Some will end up hating you, and others will actually accuse you of hating them.

5. Make sure you sprinkle your speech with a bit of vulgarity and sexually explicit language. This let’s people know that you are really human. They will more readily open up to you. However, be careful not to do this around those overly religious types. They have probably never read what Solomon wrote: “Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?” (Eccles. 7:16). In fact this leads me to my next point . .

6. Practice all vices in moderation. Solomon also wrote that one should not “be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time” (Eccles. 7:17). So you see, a little wickedness is O.K. but just don’t go overboard. You can apply this thinking to social drinking, dancing, partying and all sorts of things. I was told, “Lindy, just have a few beers with the boys and show that you are a regular guy.” Listen, just be discrete. Yes, that’s the key – be discrete. In baseball, a little cheating is O.K. Just don’t get caught! We might even reason, “Everybody does it”, but that might be a bit of an exaggeration. Some might call this giving in to “peer pressure”, but pay no mind. Those people are probably radicals. After all, we have to live in the real world.

7. Try to stay clear of people who have strong convictions of right and wrong. Such people really give religion a bad name, especially among the people of a more worldly point of view. You have surely heard the names, “prude”, “self-righteous”, “do-gooder”, “heartless”, “square”, etc. applied to those people. Do you really want people to call you those kinds of names? If people do not think well of you, how can you influence them?

8. Try to stay in the middle of the road on controversial matters. The key is not to be too far to the right or too far to the left. People will see you as being a true moderate and even as a diplomat. Stay above the fray of actually having to fight spiritual battles while maintaining an air of being impartial. The problem here is determining what is the “middle of the road.” Just trust your own instincts on this.

9. Be tolerant of what other people believe and practice no matter how odd or strange. After all, they have the “right” to their behavior just as you have a “right” to do what you do. Whether you like it or not, our world has been heavily influenced by secular humanistic thinking, and so we might as well go along with the flow. Didn’t Jesus teach that we are not to judge others? No one is perfect. Doesn’t that excuse just about anything people want to do? The more outrageous their behavior the more this principle seems to apply. Some of these “far out” people get real angry and ugly if you question what they do. This especially applies to homosexuals, heavy drinkers and other things I could name. But this same rule does not seem to apply to those “overly righteous” Christians. If you oppose them there is little chance that you will ever suffer persecution. So be tolerant to all people under all circumstances, and you will never have to worry about “being persecuted for righteousness sake.”

10. Give others as many compliments as you can, even if you have to make things up. It makes people feel good and you will have many friends. There is no down side to this, unless someone finally figures out that you use flattery to gain favor with people. Also, go to a church where the preacher is totally positive and refuses to get caught up in any kind of negative preaching. Some say that is their calling, and who can argue with that!

11. Act one way when in the company of religious people, especially those who are overly religious, and another way around worldly people. Paul wrote: “I have become all things to all men” (1 Cor. 9:22) and then he explained how he acted in different ways around different people. Don’t you think that is what he had in mind? We say, “In Rome do as the Romans do.” I like the idea that Vegas uses, “What goes on here stays here.” In baseball, we had the same signs in the clubhouse. We all need these sanctuaries where we can feel free to do whatever we wish to do without fear of being exposed. Besides, “Aren’t morals always situational?” Isn’t that what is taught to a lot of young people today? Imagine how radical is the idea that truths are absolute and apply to all people the same all over the world?

12. Don’t feel passionate about anything. That is what gets people into trouble. Of course, it is alright to feel passionate about your favorite sports team! Also, in society you must feel passionate about those things that have been labeled “Politically Correct”, if you can figure out just what those things are. But as a normal rule, don’t have strong convictions about anything. You don’t want to give people the impression that you are opinionated! Remember, there are always two sides to every question and if we can actually defend all sides we come across as being unbiased and very insightful. If you do get into an argument with someone, cave in as quickly as possible, for Jesus said, “Agree with your adversary quickly” (Matt. 5:25). Having an apathetic attitude will never get you persecuted.

13. If the church where you attend starts to have problems, leave as quickly as possible so that you are not forced to take sides. The last thing you need is to have to determine who is right and who is wrong.  Just leave and find a church were there are no problems.

14. If some well intentioned person tries to pressure you to be more diligent in your service to Jesus Christ, just tell them that the Bible teaches that we are not saved by our works. That should cool his/her heels. After all, if we “have” to do anything, doesn’t that mean that we are trying to earn our salvation?

15. If someone insists that courage means that we always do the right thing regardless of the cost, just quote this to them: “Surely a live dog is better than a dead lion” (Eccles. 8:4). I know that some say that leadership and courage go hand in hand, but can’t we just get along?

16. Follow everything your religious leaders tell you to do, unless of course they are one of those extreme people who place truth above everything else, and make extreme demands on your own behavior. This could lead to suffering. Just passively going along with everything that you are taught will keep you out of trouble. This will also keep you from taking personal responsibility for what you believe. How can you be held responsible for what someone else teaches?

17. It is best to attend a very large church with a very fancy building. You can sort of blend in among the multitude. Especially if they have a policy of not judging anyone, and offer all sorts of social activities and contacts. This can help both your religious and social status. I could go on and on with more suggestions, but these will be sufficient for you to stay out of trouble. After all, it’s your choice. Do you really want to suffer persecution?

You will notice that I did not use much scripture because such is not necessary to follow these rules. Also, you can prove most anything by the Bible if you are not concerned about the context. You might be surprised how many people follow some are all of these rules. In sports we say, “no pain, no gain”, but in religion many follow the rule, “you can gain everything without pain.” Deep down I suspect that it is those weak-kneed, hypocritical, worldly and uncommitted Christians that are giving Christianity a bad name. What do you think?

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For the past few months I have been teaching the book of Acts in our congregation. The book contains the account of the early church and how they succeeded in spreading the gospel in spite of great conflicts and trials. These folks were opposed both by the main body of the Jews and by the pagans of the Greek/Roman world. Yet they gave birth to a powerful movement that changed the world and brought unity, peace and joy to its followers. As I compared this with what often passes for Christianity today, I was moved to write the above article. You understand that I am writing all of this with “tongue in cheek” and have misused a number of Bible passages. The early Christians followed none of the above rules. Next month I will revisit these rules and give my answer. The following month of October I will address the problem of the over-emphasis of Sports and how this contributes to moral and social decay. That article will be titled, “Bodily Exercise Profits A Little”. – Lindy McDaniel

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