Is there ever a time when a Christian ought to flee or escape from impending persecution? When does one make that decision to escape the tyranny that is swallowing his country? This question is a life-or-death type of question. Certainly it is a question that should have been answered by Christians in pre-revolutionary times like 1770's France, 1890's Russia, 1930's Germany, and 1990's America.
I challenge Christians to prepare themselves for the long run. To those who would rather not think about the future, I would ask, "If you die before the tyranny destroys you, what about your family and the loved ones you leave behind?"
Will you be raptured out of this mess and will the world end before the tyranny engulfs you? Six virgins in the parable thought the bridegroom would return immanently and they did not plan ahead. Even while we are on earth, we must not neglect to lay aside an "inheritance for our children's children" (Prov. 13:22). It would be supremely inconstant to neglect to plan for future generations while living our lives refusing to admit that the world may not end before we die. Jesus may come back tomorrow or He may be back in another one thousand years. Since the ascension, particularly during times of great persecution, many Christians have over-emphasized an imminent return of Christ and, like the six foolish virgins, planned only a meager amount of oil.
Will you want to be a witness to those in the prison camps? Usually it is very ineffective to stay in an area where all verbal witnessing is suppressed. Jesus didn't ask the Christians to stick around Jerusalem during times of great persecution (Matt. 24:16). In fact, in several places Jesus commanded his disciples to flee persecution (Matt. 10:23). We are not to invite persecution. If we cannot avoid it, then we will bear it and God will preserve us for Himself.
There is a time at which all good men should give up on a tyrannical country and seek another.
Here is the general rule for timing a flight. Flee when there is imminent danger of death for you, your family, or your inheritance. This is based on several Biblical principles.
1. We are to do what we can to preserve our own lives and the lives of others. The Westminster Catechism addresses the sixth commandment with the following question and answer:
"What is required by the sixth commandment? The Sixth Commandment requires all lawful endeavors to preserve our own lives and the lives of others."
The Scottish Reformation was successful largely because of John Knox, who would never allow the Queen to get her hands on him. She did burn him in effigy once, but Knox repeatedly returned to Scotland, preaching loudly and publicly, only retreating to Geneva or England when his life was threatened. We will be of better service to the kingdom of God on earth alive than we would be dead.
2. We are to do everything within the bounds of God's law to stay out of prison. We are to "follow peace with all men" (Hebrews 12:14). Matthew 5:25 reads, "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison." We are to provide for our families, and if we do not, we will be "worse than infidels" according to I Timothy 5:8. If these things become impossible then we ought to flee. If the government makes it impossible to obey the laws of God without being arrested, separated from our families, and imprisoned, then we cannot provide for our families and we are not able to live at peace with all men.
3. "A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children." When our inheritance is at risk of seizure from the government either by inheritance taxation or by outright seizure, then it becomes impossible to practice this important proverb.
1. Because we are charged to protect our own lives and the lives of our families.
2. Because Jesus commanded his disciples to flee persecution.
3. Because God has commanded us to bring our children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and if the government invades this area of "sphere sovereignty," we are bound to resist.
4. Because the Great Commission depends on the economic ability of church-goers to fund missionary movements around the world. The stronger the economy the better the ability for Christian authors to write, print, and distribute Biblical literature that spreads the Gospel far and wide. The stronger the political Christian state, the more influence it will have to protect its missionaries in pagan and Moslem countries. Persecution of Christians in Moslem countries has increase dramatically since the United States has become anti-Christian in its state policies. Nations like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Kuwait have received massive military and economic support from the United States despite their violent persecution of Christians. The United States has backed Marxist governments in Africa, encouraging revolutions and destabilization. The end result has been suppression of the Christian churches and missionary work in Africa. When President Bush fought for Most Favored Nation status for China during the Tienneman Square massacre, he sanctioned a new rash of persecution for Chinese Christians. This is very well documented in Richard Wurmbrand's publication Continued Persecution of Christians in China, published in June, 1993.
Another Mayflower will give Christ's advancing kingdom another foothold in the strong man's house. Political strength can be and has been used effectively to allow for the free delivery of the Gospel to the darkest strongholds of Satan.
5. Because the governments are taking our money away from us and spending it on utterly reprehensible programs.
6. Because the governments are fining, imprisoning, and confiscating property of churches and innocent people.
7. Because the governments are destroying the country with ungodly laws and economics that promote envy and destroy wealth, incentive, progress, and the ability to spread the Gospel.
8. Because when a few good people gather in one area and base their community and government on principles, freedom and prosperity will flourish. The diluted effect of the few principled people scattered around America have done nothing to quell the general movement towards tyranny.
9. Because other countries will benefit from the economic prosperity of the new free country. As productivity exploded in the United States because of political and economic freedom, other nations not controlled by Marxist-Leninists and dictators were likewise benefitted (Japan, Taiwan, Philipines, South Korea, etc.). These countries borrow technology, engage in trade, and receive missionaries who teach principles (the work ethic, Godly economics, principled living, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ), thus benefitted by the existence of ONE FREE NATION.
When the nations come to trade freely with our blessed nation, will they ask, "Who is this God who has given this people such freedom?" Will they miss seeing the little black babies born into the world, both welfare and crack-dependent? Will they miss seeing elderly people stuffed away in retirement homes, forgotten by all but some well-paid social worker? Will they miss the abortion mills, the pornography shops, and 8-year-old children shouting expletives at total strangers in the streets? Will they miss the 50% taxation on money exchanging hands? Will they miss government regulation on every movement of innocent citizens while the common peace is held hostage by street thugs daily? Will they miss the drive-by, random gang shootings, the convicted murderers and rapists walking the streets, and the ubiquitous, sue-crazy litigants?
Will they see opportunities for the poor, the down-trodden, and the oppressed from socialist tyrannies around the world? Will they see our free enterprise, our limited government, our safe streets, our fair justice that is not afraid to exercise Biblical law, our private, competitive schooling, our generous private charities, our well-disciplined children, our families that care for their own, and our churches that believe the Bible, and will they ask, "Who is this God that we may know Him?" It is a Biblical principle that non-Christian nations are benefitted by the light of one Christian community (Isaiah 60:3-16).