When these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
–Luke 21:28

Open Doors USA, an organization that studies and helps persecuted Christians, said 2016 was the “worst year yet” in terms of persecution around the world. We hear horrific stories of ISIS committing atrocities such as beheading Christians. That kind of evil is being perpetrated by radical Islam against people of faith, and we are seeing it begin to escalate. Christians are not only being persecuted around the world, but the seeds of persecution against Christians in this country are being planted right now. Liberal websites have ridiculed me for equating the persecution of Christians around the world with the persecution that Christians are facing in America. I will be the first to acknowledge that having your business bankrupted because you refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding is not the same thing as having your head chopped off, but the attitude that allows both acts of persecution is the same. And that is what we are seeing in this country. The seeds are being sown for the persecution of Christians.

Let me remind you of something from history. The Nazis in Germany did not take the Jewish people to the crematoriums and concentration camps immediately. They couldn’t have gotten away with it. The German people would not have stood for that. The Nazis did not go immediately from A to Z. Instead, they went from A to B. And the way they gradually changed the attitude of Germans toward the Jews was by marginalizing the Jews. The Nazis begin to treat Jews as objects of disdain and contempt. They began convincing the German people that the Jews were different by saying, “They are not like the rest of us. They are an inferior group. They have strange beliefs. They deserve to have their rights taken away.” Once you have successfully marginalized a group in society, then society doesn’t mind if you take away their rights.

That is what is happening right now in America to Christians. People say, “Why, these people who won’t serve a gay couple, they are not like us. They are bigots. They’re hate-mongers. They don’t deserve the First Amendment protections that the rest of us enjoy. They deserve to have their businesses go bankrupt.” That’s the attitude that is being sown in our society. And once you have marginalized conservative Christians like that, it’s easy to see where that attitude is headed. “They are an inferior group. They deserve to be persecuted and imprisoned.” I believe that is coming to America quicker than any of us could imagine.

In Luke 21:28, Jesus said, “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” I believe we are beginning to see the things take place that Jesus talked about. The countdown to the apocalypse has begun.

***

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Who Do We Forgive?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Open Doors USA 2017 World Watch List, cited in Jeremy Weber, “‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian,” Christianity Today, January 1, 2017.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.