Soft Christianity

As Independence Day approaches, I am thankful to be living in a country that, at present, allows us to worship God. This freedom has enabled America for the last century or more to be a land where workers can be trained to preach the Gospel around the world, and where Bibles can be printed and then distributed to those who would receive them.

But there is no scriptural guarantee that this will always be the case. In fact, I almost wonder if this freedom has caused American Christians to take the church for granted. To look upon Christ and the Church as a nice addition to our lives that helps people behave, but that one shouldn’t get too radical about. Where selection of a “church home” is done on the basis of who has the most to offer rather than on the veracity of the message being preached.

And all the while, our brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the planet suffer and are killed for their faith on a daily basis. They worship God in secret gatherings, out of sight of government officials or the radical religionists who would think they are doing God a service by killing them. They continually live out the Words spoken by our Master:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:18-20 NASB)

On occasion, I have met brethren from lands like Pakistan, or who have fled Saudi Arabia because they had a sentence of death on them. They were not proud, but considered it an honor to be persecuted for their Lord. After such meetings, through no fault of theirs, I would walk away feeling so lukewarm and convicted. You see, where I am from, I am surrounded by those who encourage my faith and I can openly worship Jesus. But for those who are the persecuted, their faith costs them something. They truly have to count the cost before putting on Christ in baptism, because it may cost them everything they have held dear to themselves. Surely their heavenly rewards will be so much greater than my own, and rightly so.

But again, we in America must also remember that there is no guarantee that things will always be like they have been in our past. Persecution could come at any time, and who are we to say that it would not be a pruning and purifying process that the Lord would deem necessary to our spiritual development?
Did not Jesus himself say,
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11, 12 NASB)?
And the Apostle Paul wrote that, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12 NASB)
Do we dare to contemplate what the Spirit meant when He had Paul use the word “all” in that verse?

Well, what are we to do in the mean time? First and foremost, pray for the persecuted church daily! As Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them, those who are mistreated since you yourselves are in the body also.” All of us who belong to Christ make up His body. And when one part is suffering, we all suffer with it (1 Corinth 12:26)

I would also encourage all of us to prayerfully examine the Scriptures and judge for ourselves the depth of our commitment to Jesus Christ and the Gospel. And after that, say with deeper conviction than ever before, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back!”