A Spiritual Slaughter We Aren’t Talking About
*Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of articles pointing our focus on the persecuted church in many parts of the world. This first article, however, reminds us that the Devil’s tactics are not exclusive to physical persecution in foreign countries. He is busy in the Western world as well, with subtle yet devastating effects. We all need to be reminded to “watch out for attacks from the Devil.”
“Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” (1 Peter 5:8-9, NLT)
In contrast with persecution figures from all over the world, it’s been my tendency to belittle the suffering of Western Christians, specifically Americans. With relative ease, Americans roll into million-dollar complexes on Sunday mornings, sipping frappuccinos, to hear a message from college educated pastors and teachers. With airs of entitlement and attitudes of complacency, Americans seem to stumble through Mondays onto Saturdays and repeat the cycle.
Perhaps for the first time in my life, I’ve seen the American plight for what it truly is: a spiritual slaughter.
There was a photo that circulated a few years back of a young woman holding a sign that read “Going to Hell and Proud.” Paul’s words in Romans 9:2 find a home in my heart as I look at the young woman’s face: “My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief.”
As Paul bemoans the fate of his Jewish brethren in Romans 9, the grief surely extends to all of God’s children, designed in his image, chosen above all creation to receive the blessing and salvation of Jesus Christ. This young woman, captive to the lies of the Devil, had succumbed to the attacks from the Devil which matter most: his intent to devour the soul.
As Jesus sends out the 12 in Matthew 10, he reminds them to serve without fear of the world.
“Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Jesus reminds them that the bodies of men will suffer, but it wouldn’t be what mattered in the long run. Although Christians believe in a physical resurrection at the end of time, these temporary bodies were never meant to endure. Although Jesus will restore creation to a “new heaven and new earth,” this present physical world was never meant to endure.
Yet I’ve found myself defining and obsessing over a persecution of physical things that were never meant to matter. In comparison with statistics of struggles around the world, I’d missed the importance of the Devil’s attack that has eternal ramifications: his slaughter of souls.
So in preparation for a series on persecution, I felt compelled to remind the church that another persecution of sorts is well underway. Sitting in our rows at church are people who have forgotten that a friendship with the world makes them an enemy of God (James 4:4). In our classrooms are people who think they are saved but have no idea what’s to come on the broad road to destruction (Matt. 7:21). As for the world outside the body of Christ, many, like the young lady wrote, are actually proud of the path that will take them to hell (Matt. 7:13).
In comparison with statistics of struggles around the world, I’d missed the importance of the Devil’s attack that has eternal ramifications: his slaughter of souls.
Satan is here on the earth, stalking us like a lion, and many have joined his pride.
He is devouring, feasting on, and eviscerating men, women, and children. His lies have taken hold, and his arrows are finding their marks.
So church, don’t wait to get involved in a persecution to come; go out and fight it now. For you have nothing to fear. As Jesus tells the 12, I remind you now:
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)