Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Theology of Persecution is Necessary for a Healthy Body

I have learned a lot about the human immune system since my own has taken a bit of a beating over the past few years as a result of cancer and chemotherapy (there are times when I think the latter is the harder to live with). Neutrophils are one of these things that I have become very aware of. They are the most abundant type of white blood cells and form an integral part of the immune system. A low count, called "neutropenia", makes one very susceptible to infection.

This is what I am battling right now and why I am in the hospital in reverse isolation. When I was booked into the hospital on Friday, my neutraphil count was 0 (2.5-7.5x10^9/L is normal). Yup, ZERO. Hence, but by the grace of God, I could have picked up virtually anything and had very little to fight it off.

This got me thinking last night. Why does the North American church need the message of the Persecuted Church? In many ways, I believe that the message of persecution in the context of discipleship serves the role in the Body of Christ that neutraphils serve in the human body. Like neutraphils, persecution is common in the Body of Christ. Today, far more Christians face daily persecution than those who do not. The biblical theology of persecution (or diogmology) provides immunity against infections that can harm the Body; teachings like it is always God's will that one be healthy and wealthy and that no harm can come to you if you have enough faith. The understanding that the disciples is called to a lifestyle of suffering, sacrifice, and shame (even to the point of death) in order to accomplish the purposes of the Kingdom of God provides a balance and a context to the other promises of God's Word which, viewed in isolation, can lead to a unhealthy realized eschatology so common in today's western church. Don't get me wrong; I do believe in healing and I do believe that God supplies our needs but I refuse to see these promises apart from the widespread teaching in the Bible regarding persecution for the sake of Christ.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for these thoughts.

Just a word of encouragement: My mother also went through cancer treatments, and repeatedly had zero neutrophil counts. But the Divine Physician's hand of healing saw her through and I'm praying the same for you.

Glenn Penner said...

Thank you very much for the kind of words. I am humbled by the many people around the world who are upholding me at prayer during these days

Anonymous said...

you are right on. the western church is so unprepared for any kind of persecution. what is scarier is that the christian youth are taking a very on a worldly character that makes it hard to separate them from the world. too many christian myspace, that should be about jesus, is about hippy-love, worldly living, and barely-clad female pictures. it is totally asleep. when it happens, the church is going to be totally unprepared.
I will be praying for you. My father-in-law died from cancer. It's bad stuff. God Bless.

Eunice Campbell said...

Glenn, you are an inspiration to us. Your friends are praying for you. How good it is to know that you are safe in His hands.