Does the American Church NEED to be Persecuted?

Posted: August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
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  Does the church in America need to encounter strong persecution?  The obvious answer would be no.  Why would the world NEED any persecution?  America is a prideful country.  Its pride stems from the freedoms that are given to all who live here; freedom of speech, religion, and choice.  So why would freedom need to be taken?

My thoughts are not conclusive.  There are not a final answer to the American churches’ problems, in fact, they are not even resolute in my own mind.  However, I thought the question interesting enough to write.

I was reading a couple of books recently that touched on underground churches throughout Asia and other parts of the world.  Both books spoke of the desperation and risk that the church took by meeting.  The risk of losing one’s security, one’s family, one’s life.  Each took time to note the differences between their church services and the average American church service.  Instead of fancy lighting and matching carpet there was dirt floors and candles.  Instead of masses of people there were only a few.  Instead of a lack luster approach to church there was a fire and passion.  Are they worshiping a different risen Savior?  Is their Bible truer and their songs purer?  No, of course not.  But see, when they come to worship, there is danger.  When they come to worship, they are giving up everything.  They are acting out Luke 14:33 which says, “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

I am thankful.  I am thankful for a loving God that allows me to worship in peace and safety.  It is rare.  But has God allowed us to worship freely as a reward, or can we simply not withstand the outcome if he were to allow persecution to the American church?  My mind goes to the story of Job.  Satan enters the picture and persuades God to allow him to tempt Job.  God allows him, not because he wants to test Job to see if he can withstand it, but because he knows he can.  Is the American church not being persecuted because we are blessed or because we cannot withstand it?  Is temptation and persecution not a reward?  Jesus embraces persecution.  Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Persecution has always been.  Even when the prophets were among their own people they were rejected.  Is the American church not receiving persecution because our whole society is right in line with the views of Jesus?  Are we not being strongly persecuted because our society is Christ centered?  Are we not receiving persecution because God is first in our culture and everything else fails to even compare to him?  Hardly!

Let me be clear, there is persecution in America.  People are harassed daily because of their faith.  There are church bombings and shootings because of what they stand for.  But I am speaking to the American church as a whole.  Not as individual parts, but as the Body of Christ.  Could persecution make us stronger by making us weaker?  If the government decided to arrest and punish anyone that went to church or stood for Christ and there were armed guards on every street, would there still be mega-church meetings?

I do not want to be cynical.  I want simply to ask a question.  To bring a thought and idea to the minds of Christians.  Instead of thanking God for blessing us to live in a land of freedom, should we be praying that in his eyes we are strong enough to withstand persecution?

Jesus spoke Matthew 5:11-12 (quoted earlier) at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.  The disciples heard it and clearly took it to heart because of the story we find in Acts 5.  I will close with it.  But before I do, the Body of Christ changes one person at a time.  Therefore, if we desire to have a faith that is strong enough to withstand persecution and temptation, it has to start on a personal level.  It has to start with full devotion to Christ and his word.  Not halfway, not mediocre, but a full commitment to the will of the Father, through the saving grace of the Son, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5: 40-42 “They called the apostles in and had them flogged.  Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, REJOICING because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

Let us all rejoice.

In Christ’s Love,

Josh

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