Commentary By Hedieh Mirahmadi, Op-ed Contributor
Several months ago, I wrote an op-ed about how concerned I was for the state of the Church in America if persecution were to reach our shores. Unfortunately, that time may be upon us. I spent over a decade after 9-11 as a US government contractor building community-based programs that would detect and deter Islamic radicals. We used words like “violent extremists” instead of “Islamic” to distinguish between peaceful Muslims and those who used religion to justify violence. “Words matter” was a fundamental US policy because we took pride in protecting religious liberty and the freedom to express unpopular beliefs.
However, since the US Capitol attack, many of our elected officials are unwilling to apply those same principles to conservative Christians. Though a tiny group of anarchists perpetrated the violence, we hear the entire conservative movement described as violent radicals who must be identified, marginalized, and even subject to criminal penalties. It is very alarming to hear Congressional representatives talk about their fellow Americans with such disdain and intolerance. Vilification of millions of Americans who passionately defend the rights of the unborn, Biblical gender roles, and the Christian ideals that are the cornerstone of our constitution can have far-reaching consequences.
Our beliefs are not inherently violent or intolerant. We do not seek to impose our values through violence as the Islamic terrorists explicitly advocate. Yet some in the media and government are equating the two as if we are the new “enemy of the state.” What will be the response of our Christian leaders and the Church at large to such a gross mischaracterization? Do we have the internal fortitude and courage to defend our ideals even if we become social outcasts or suffer physical consequences?
God says in the Book of Revelation, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” He teaches us that we must be bold during such times, whatever the cost, and never fear the consequences that men can bring. Paul the Apostle knew this principle all too well. He experienced physical torture, ridicule, and even gave up his own life for one reason – his unwavering devotion to spreading the Gospel. Salvation occurs at the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but that is not the only goal of our redemption. We are called to preach the Gospel so that the whole world can be redeemed and placed perfectly whole at the throne of God. The fact that we get to experience sanctification and the joy that comes from a relationship with Christ is a welcomed byproduct; but, we cannot forget the great commission to reconcile the whole world unto Him, regardless of the personal cost.
After a year of being locked in our homes for fear of a pandemic, having our kids suffering immeasurable harm from being out of school and without meaningful social interaction, people need the grace and peace that can only come from being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Now more than ever, our society needs Christians to provide a way out of the turmoil of personal circumstances. The power of redemption does not rely on who is president or what society says is acceptable but is based on God’s infallible word found in the Bible, going forth from the church. It is the only unwavering source of peace in what would otherwise be a chaotic world. Regardless of how they want to characterize us as extremists or radicals, we know the true power of Jesus Christ to redeem, restore and transform the lives of all who accept Him. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
ABOUT THE COMMENTATOR:
Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel. She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations.