If our children are going to remain faithful to God in a time of trials and persecution there are some things we have to do to prepare them for something we have never faced before. One of those things is . . .
Get that Government is not God
As I look back at history when there was a hostile government there seemed to always be a group that wanted to be violent. That is not the answer! We need to teach our children to be the best citizens they can be as long as the government does not call on them to violate God’s teaching, and then to simply refuse to submit to those laws. We will look at this further in the section on setting boundaries. One of the most difficult things for a person who is used to freedom to handle is the loss of that freedom and mistreatment or the violation of their rights. As Christians, however, we must remember that being right with God is more important than having rights with government. Jesus taught peace and submission, not violence and rebellion. Not all who have used the name of Christ have practiced what He both taught and practiced. The Old Testament tells of a time of violence and a physical kingdom that fought with physical enemies and material weapons, but Christ’s kingdom is not of this world because if it were His subjects would fight, but they don’t (John 18:33-37).
We have mostly failed to take the peace that Jesus left and implant it in our hearts and minds and the hearts and minds of our children. We must understand that as soon as we take up physical weapons to fight for God’s kingdom, we have betrayed what that kingdom stands for and have become traitors to Jesus and friends to the enemy. Gandhi was quoted as saying, “I like your Christ, but not your Christians. Your Christians are not much like your Christ.” When we act like the world and fuss and cuss and fight and kill we are part of the world and not part of Christ’s body, because His body does not behave that way (1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Peter 2:23).
Jesus warned Peter that those who use the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52), and His true followers have been warning others of this same thing for 20 centuries. One case, certainly not the only one, from the 1400's recorded by Hans Grimm in his book The Course Of The Church Through The Centuries:
Reiser had warned in vain against trying to protect churches of Christ with the sword.
The Taborites, incensed at the betrayal of the common cause, began the two-front war
against those who had capitulated in their own camp and against the crusaders on the
borders. They were annihilated near Lipan in 1434 as a military force by the combined
forces of their opponents, and about the middle of the century they vanished as a reli-
gious party also.
We need to listen to those warnings. Other religions may call on their faithful to fight, but Christianity is more precious. Christianity is a faith worth NOT fighting for because fighting violates the faith. We are not terrorists. We fight against spiritual enemies with spiritual weapons and because of that we are no threat to anyone as long as we follow Christ. The wisdom of God’s plan for the church is seen in the way it is capable of surviving through times of turmoil and persecution. The autonomy of the local church with local leadership instead of a central government, the peaceful nature, the teaching to be submissive to the authorities, etc. are all things that make the persecution of the church problematic for a government. A group with a national headquarters that depends on that organization to function will be devastated by a law that affects that group, but if the government wants to shut down or cripple the churches of Christ they will have to come to every town to do it. Remember in the first century the church was large in Jerusalem before Acts 8 when Saul began to make havoc of it and they just scattered to other places, that left Saul having to go from town to town trying to get them. The governing authorities are not God and, therefore, they cannot be everywhere and know everything.
We need to learn to focus our minds on Hebrews 13:5-6, God is with us we should never be afraid of what man can do to us. We need to pound this fearlessness, the desire to be weird, the courage to walk away from the fight attitude into our children if we want them to win. The child who has to fit in with the group will not stand against the crowd.