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Co-Opting Jesus into politics
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Two weeks ago, Donna Brazile, a political analyst, was interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Kelly’s Fox News show.

Kelly asked Brazile about the WikiLeaks revelation that Brazile had acted unethically.

Without getting into details, Brazile had denied doing something, which WikiLeaks documents then showed Brazile did actually do.

And here was Brazile’s response, “As a Christian woman I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted.”

As a Christian, she understands persecution? Really?

The Apostle Peter was crucified upside down, Stephen was stoned to death, Bartholomew was skinned alive and then beheaded, Thomas was run through with a spear, and Thaddeus was beaten to death.

And, do you remember those Christians who were dragged into the Coliseum and asked to renounce their faith or die?

After all, Christians said Jesus was their king, but “there could be no king but Caesar.” Recall how they were torn apart by wild animals to the delight of the crowd when they refused to renounce Christianity?

Or perhaps you have heard of all those imprisoned in China of other countries for their Christian faith.

Then, of course, we have the Christians in Syria and Iraq who are told to renounce their faith or be beheaded. Many have died under the sword. Their heads are then held up for all to see.

Those Christians understood persecution.

What Ms. Brazile is clearly referring to is Jesus’s statement in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

This statement from the Sermon on the Mount is re-told in Luke; Luke 6:22 has Jesus’s statement as, “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”

But, let’s be clear about what Jesus is saying here, and what He isn’t saying. Look, if you sin and are persecuted for it, you cannot co-opt Christianity into that.

In other words, Jesus does not say that you are blessed simply because you are being persecuted – and certainly not when you are being rightfully persecuted!

If you do something wrong and you get taken to the woodshed for it, sure, it may feel like persecution, but that has nothing to do with Jesus’s statements in the gospels.

For what does Jesus say? He says that you are blessed if you are reviled, hated and persecuted because of your relationship with Him!

That is clear in every translation: We are given the phrases “because of me,” or “because of the Son of Man,” or “on my account.”

You are not blessed because you are being rightfully persecuted for your own actions!

I suppose the motivation to co-opt Jesus into one’s defense in rather transparent, isn’t it? Of course, such a suggestion – that the line of questioning in some way tramples on that person’s deeply held faith – is sure to elicit a back-up by the questioner. That’s using Christianity as a weapon and for personal gain, and should never be done.

Yet, more than that, Brazile’s statement cheapens the suffering of those martyred for the faith handed down to us. It cheapens those sacrifices.

I pray you never experience genuine persecution for your Christian faith.

But know that if you do, Jesus will indeed have your back.