THE SOURCE OF PERSECUTION


STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM

THE SOURCE OF PERSECUTION
=========================
Then Haman said to King Xerxes,
“There is a certain people dispersed among the
peoples in all the provinces
of your kingdom who keep themselves separate.
Their customs are different
from those of all other people, and they do not
obey the king’s laws; it is
not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them.
Esther 3:8

Today we
feature the first in a series from a house church pastor’s sermon
in
China:

The Bible is written to persecuted communities, and we must
learn from each
community the peculiar blessings and dangers of persecution.
I would like to
draw your attention to some lessons from the persecuted
community in the time
of Esther.

Esther was Queen of Persia sometime
after 483 BC. She was a beautiful woman
with a secret—no one except her
adopted father knew it. It was her racial
origin. She was a Jew.

There
came a great persecution. In Esther 3:8, we read that the king of
Persia’s
advisor says he should not tolerate a certain group of people. The
king
agrees, and issues a decree calling for the extermination of all
Jews.

The Jews are devastated, including Esther. How they got into this
situation,
how they get out of it, and what happened afterwards all reveal
great truths
about suffering churches—of which we are one.

Where does
persecution come from? What is its source? The text shows us
clearly.
Persecution is the result of pride. Pride on the part of
the
persecutor.

Haman is the culprit. He is humiliated because a Jew
called Mordecai refuses
to bow low enough to him. We are not given the reason
why Mordecai would
deliver such a calculated snub, but it makes Haman see
red. Instead of just
trying to get rid of Mordecai, though, he has to project
his personal
humiliation into something grand. He won’t admit it’s all just a
personal
grudge, but concocts an elaborate plan to get rid of all Jews
because they are
in breach of the king’s laws.

His plan is a good one.
The Jews are different, he says. True. They are so
different, they are not
good citizens, he adds. False, but the king is right
to be suspicious of any
group that seems to have other loyalties than just to
him. It’s the same in
China. Our government persecutes us because we are
different. We are honest,
separate, and we have greater loyalties than just to
the state. That makes us
an object of suspicion.

But the root of it all is pride. The cause of the
persecution was simply that
Haman was angry. I have read that in Russia, the
terrible persecutions that
were visited upon the churches there came from the
fact that Lenin’s brother
was shot by the Tsar’s forces, and what galled him
in particular was that a
Russian Orthodox priest blessed the proceedings. He
carried his personal
hatred with him…It’s a pride matter. It always is. The
source of suffering is
always found in human pride.

RESPONSE: Today I
will check my pride at the door and realize that God is
still in
control!

PRAYER: Pray that prideful leaders will humble themselves to
acknowledge the
God of the universe.

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