Monday, 2 August 2010

Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness' sake...

The UK's Daily Telegraph has reported on the case of a lecturer at Oxford University's Centre for Jewish Studies, Dr Tali Argov, who claims to have experienced ostracism and discrimination in her workplace because of her conversion from Judaism to Christianity (click on the post title to view the article). Dr Argov attributes her recent redundancy to the negative attitude shown to her by her former employers following her conversion. She is seeking redress from a discrimination tribunal.

This raises an interesting and very real dilemma that I believe Christians will be forced to face in the future as persecution increases in post-Christian societies: Christians in a civil society certainly have every right to expect the law to protect them from persecution, and in many legal jurisdictions they also have the right to pursue redress in courts and tribunals for any financial and emotional damage inflicted on them by such persecution. Like any other citizen, they have a right to seek justice. But the question is, should Christians pursue such remedies at all? Or should they accept persecution as a cross given them to bear in this life, and patiently await reward, restitution and perfect justice in the next life? What is most pleasing to God in such situations? And which course of action will contribute more to our growth in faith and love, not to mention our willing submission to God's will, as we journey on through this 'vale of tears' to our heavenly home?

After all, our Lord did say 'Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds fo evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great...'


David Cochrane said...

St Mark,

In Acts 25 St Paul appeals to Caesar. I am not sure what this person has done is necessarily incorrect. I would wish her well in this venture discrimination is easy to see and hard to prove.

In Christ we are already as pleasing to our Father in heaven. The beatitudes is primarily about Jesus and we are credited with those in the robe of righteousness. God can use whatever a Christian does for his honour and glory. Perhaps through this struggle she will have opportunity to proclaim Jesus crucified to more persons. My prayers are definately with this sister. Thank you for posting this article.

pax domini. †

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Hi David,

Thanks for your comment.

Certainly in agreement with you in saying we are clothed with Christ's perfect righteousness, but I would also want to suggest that the imperative follows in good Pauline fashion: now be what you are.

Like you, I wouldn't say this sister is necessarily incorrect in her actions either; it is really a matter for her conscience to judge. I merely intended to point out the tension that exists here: yes, we can appeal to Caesar, but we are free not to appeal and take our lumps as well.

Luther's exposition of the Beatitude says who cares who persecutes us, as long as Christ is taking dearly to our hearts and comforting us that we are blessed and right with God...therefore let us be ready to suffer persecution.

If I see a follow-up report I'll post it.

+ pax, St David

Anonymous said...

Oh boy...that is a good question!! My flesh simply wants to rise up and fight back...but I'm not sure that is right???

Could it be one of those things that for each of us when we cross that bridge, we will have to decide whether or not to appeal to Caesar or let it go?

Great question...I will discuss this with some of my dear brethren.

Devon in Canada.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Hi Devon,

Thanks for stopping by the old manse.

Yes, I think it's a matter for the individual's conscience. I certainly don't condemn the lady in question for seeking redress through the courts; I'm just pointing out that there is another course of action open to Christians.