Questions. Everyone has them, and some more than others. In my line of work as a Christian journalist, inquiries from readers often begin with “If God is so loving, then why…?” While believers may feel inclined to ask the same, it is in these moments that Christians should not shy away. Truth be told, God’s children should use these opportunities to share truth and apply scripture. That’s what the disciples did, and that is what people of the 21st century should do, even when facing tough questions such as “Why does God allow persecution?”
We could spend years writing and debating this topic. But given this is Engage Magazine’s annual Orange Letter Campaign to raise awareness about the persecution of Christians in other parts of the world, let us condense it down to one reason: free will. Without it, we would not have persecution. Frank Turek, author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, puts it this way:
“Without free will, we don’t have persecution, but we don’t have love either. Without free will, this isn’t a moral universe to begin with, so it ultimately starts with free will and God, of course, can bring good from persecution even when we can’t see what the good is.”
“Another way of putting it is to say this, and in fact, I got this question once at Michigan State. An atheist asked, ‘Well, if there is a good God, why doesn’t He stop all the evil in the world?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, that’s an excellent question. Maybe because if He did, He might start with you and me because we do evil every day.’ We always think about somebody else doing all the evil and we’re doing evil every day. Sure, God could stop all the evil. He could just take away our free will. But then again if He did that, then we wouldn’t have the capacity to love either.”
Meanwhile, persecution or evil does not disprove God. Turek would tell you it actually shows God does exist. How so? Because the persecution of Christians or anybody else would not really be evil unless the standard of good (i.e. God’s nature) actually existed.
It’s worth noting here that many Christians erroneously think that no evil will ever come their way. Sermons against prosperity gospel aside, it should be argued that things will most likely get more difficult (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Romans 5:3-5, Romans 8:35-39, John 15:20). For example, after I got saved, I quit my job and came here to work for American Family Radio News, one of EngageMagazine.net’s sister ministries. Because I work for a Christian news organization, some readers label me as “fake news.” Because AFN offers news from a Christian perspective, that really sets some folks off, and seeing as how both AFN and Engage fall under the umbrella of the American Family Association, we (like AFA) are wrongfully labeled “haters” because of our stance on Scripture.
Still, it is here that we can stand tall, deliver the truth in Christian love and kindness, and represent our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That’s the same Jesus Christ who tells us that people will persecute us, just as they persecuted Him. It’s the Jesus Christ who died on the cross so that all people who repent cry out to Him will be saved (Matthew 4:17, John 3:16-17, Romans 10:9, 13). It’s the same Jesus Christ that we can and should tell people about through our words and actions. In doing so, we improve ourselves. Turek agrees:
“James says it leads to patience. Paul says that trials lead to perseverance and perseverance to character and character to hope. When you think about it, sometimes the virtues, the greater virtues can only be achieved when you go through difficulty. You can’t really develop courage unless there is danger. You can’t really develop perseverance unless there are obstacles in your way. It’s hard to develop patience unless there’s trouble in your path. It’s difficult to develop trust without needs.”
While you ponder these and other things, commit the following verse to memory:
“Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 KJV)
Pray for the persecuted. Pray for the persecutors. Request strength for when trials come. Ask Him to help you love others the way He loves us.
Remember, you can send your letter to the Nigerian widows to firstname.lastname@example.org.