Tribulation Now for Nigerian Christians


 

Usually, I love debating theology and the finer points of Christian doctrine. I am a pastor and a professor; I am supposed to love such things. But there is one aspect of doctrine that tends to provoke my inner Mike Tyson.  I go nuts whenever I see or hear some modern day prophet spewing his end-time apocalyptic fire.

Typically, such “prophecies” warn Christians (ur, American Christians) about some latter day tribulation that will be intolerable (unless you believe in a pre-Trib rapture). I find such claptrap to be both uninspired and downright deplorable. Nigeria gives us just one reason why.

In Nigeria, between 25-30 Christian students have been murdered by Muslim terrorists.  The students were in their rooms studying for their college exams—just like your Christian persecution Nigeria tribulation kids and my kids are (supposed to be) doing week after week in their apartments and dorm rooms.  Suddenly, armed Muslim terrorists broke into their rooms, called them out by name, and killed them either by shooting them or by slitting their throats. Why were they murdered? Because they were Christian and not Muslim.

Imagine if this were your child. Imagine your son, your daughter, working hard to get entry into college and trying to study to improve his or her future, only to be robbed of that future by men who fashion themselves Allah’s executioners.  What right do these men have to decide that your child should die today? Can you imagine the agony of these mothers and fathers today, as they now must struggle to find a way to bury their children?

I dare say it would be cruel to speak to these parents and warn them (like a prophecy preacher would) of some horrible time in the future which might include intense persecution for the church. That future is now for Christians all over the world. Tribulation is now for Christians in Nigeria. In Nigeria, there has been violence against Christians every single day since November 2011.  It seems to me they are facing tribulation now on account of Christ. Persecution is their normal day.

Rather than prophesying to Christians about some future apocalyptic persecution, the Apostle Paul made a regular practice of encouraging Christians by telling them, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  Fear-mongering by futuristic prophecy preaching only works from the comfort of America, where examples of suffering might include sitting in uncomfortable pews or enduring painfully loud drums in the worship service.  In Nigeria, they are not afraid of the future prospect of persecution because their present reality is a call to survive, to endure, to persevere to the end of their tribulation and receive their white robes and new names in the presence of the one whose eyes are flaming fire and whose tongue is a two-edged sword, razor-sharp with truth and justice.  Undoubtedly, their thoughts are Christ-ward as their souls cry, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

 

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