Friday, January 25, 2013

The Persecuted American Church

I am sure most of us are aware that Christians in other countries are being persecuted. They are imprisoned, beat, and sometimes even killed for their faith. Guards stand outside churches, ready to consume believers as they meet. The government pretends like God doesn't exist, and attacks those that say otherwise. Strict rules and regulations set in place years before govern peoples lives. Bibles are rare, and to acquire one is a true blessing. Meetings are scarce, and attending one is risky because you might be discovered. Worship is soft, so the neighbors won't notice and call the authorities.

Then there is America. 300,000 estimated churches meet without any police knocking at our doors. 300,000 churches that meet with more Bibles than members. 300,000 churches who meet without any legal problems whatsoever. 

Last week my youth group had a "Secret Church" event. 50+ teens met in our regular room, but this time, there were no lights, there was no A/C, and there were no phones. We sang with our voices alone, and those that didn't know the lyrics, couldn't sing. We struggled to read out Bibles in the dim lighting. For us, this was strange, but for some, it is routine. The experience was eye opening, but we must not make the mistake of saying that the American church is not being persecuted.

In comparison, one might say that American churches are spoiled. That American churches are luke-warm  That American churches don't appreciate things. That American churches are not being persecuted. 

Oh, we are persecuted indeed. 

In America we don't have guards knocking at our doors, but we have comfort and ease ready to consume believers as they meet. I mean, we come to church and the desire for comfort follows us! The chairs were actually harder than last week... and the music was just too loud.... No, I don't remember what the pastor said. We don't come to church because we are tired, not because we will be arrested. Maybe that's worse than armed guards? 

Psalm 73:12Behold, these are the ungodly,Who are always at ease;They increase in riches.

But those that follow Christ are called to stand against the entrapping comfort. 

Social rules and regulations set in place years before, govern peoples lives. Christians in this culture are beckoned and persuaded to do things that Christ would not support. Why? Because their minds have been conformed to this lifestyle. How we see men. How we see women. How we see the difference in between men and women. How we see our bodies. The music you deem acceptable. The clothes you wear. Trust me, Communist Authorities won't arrest you for wearing a t-shirt with a cross in America, but an estimated $340 billion was spent in marketing to make you think a certain way. Not a godly way. That's a lot of money dedicated to make you not follow Christ. Maybe that's worse than an atheist government? 

1 John 2:15-17
Do Not Love the World Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

But those that follow Christ are called to stand against the world.

Bibles are not rare! They are all over the place! But to appreciate one is a true blessing. The struggle is not finding a Bible, but truly appreciating it. We do not fight for a Bible, but we fight to love it. It is ingratitude that haunts us. For some, a page of the Bible is memorized overnight. For us, a verse of the Bible is memorized in a week - at best? Maybe taking God's Word for granted is worse than not having it?

Psalm 119:140
Your word is very pure;Therefore Your servant loves it.

But those that follow Christ are called to stand against ingratitude.

Police have barged into churches, and arrested many many believers to put them behind bars. Although they are imprisoned and even killed, they are spiritually awake and passionate. The numbers of believers in persecuted churches dwindle because the authorities have taken them away. 

Comfort, ease, indifference and the culture have barged into many churches, and put believers behind bars. They are imprisoned, and their spiritual life dwindles away to luke-warmness. To top it all off, they stay that way for a long time. The numbers of believers dwindle because the world has taken them away. 

You do not know how much this world has influenced you. 

Alas, I am not expert, but the American church is being persecuted at an entirely different level. I am not sure what is worse; a totalitarian government threatening me to deny Christ, or a culture and lifestyle that aggressively persuades me to indifference towards Christ. Granted, other believers are persecuted in much more painful and testing ways, and at a much deeper and personal level. I cannot understand the pain that some have endured for Christ, and I am certainly not downplaying their sacrifice in any way. We are, however, attacked in a much more different and abstract way, and we must recognize it to equip ourselves and make a stand against it. 


It is incorrect to say the American church doesn't face persecution, because we are wallowing in it.

- Jerry

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