There has been a lot of talk recently about the arrest of Dale McAlpine in Great Britain after a passer-by overheard him list homosexuality as a sin and the rescinding of the Pentagon’s invitation of Franklin Graham to the National Day of Prayer due to complaints from “mainline Protestants, Muslims and Jews” (see here and here). When we read these stories and stories like them I think the knee-jerk reaction of most American evangelicals is to proclaim our rights as Americans; our rights to freedom of speech and religion. What I do not hear is any mention of how Scripture does not read like the Constitution and how Scripture does not provide us with lists of rights but rather with covenant obligations. It is my prayer that if the church comes under persecution that we do not suffer bitterly as citizens of this kingdom, proclaiming our rights in this kingdom, and insisting upon fair treatment from this kingdom. Rather I pray that we would humbly and peaceably accept the consequences for proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom that is already among us and has yet to fully come, the Kingdom of Christ.

And Saul approved of his [meaning Stephen’s] execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. –Acts 8:1-4

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. –Acts 11:19-21