I bristled as I processed his comment,
“I find Americans to be naïve. Especially American Christians.”
My seasoned Israeli tour guide smiled at my shocked expression. “You Americans believe you’re entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he explained as we strolled through the Old City quarters of Jerusalem. “When your country faces danger or your liberty is threatened, you’re surprised. Even outraged. But for Christians around the world, danger and persecution is normal life.”
He was right. We are surprised and outraged when we experience persecution and injustice. American Christians have lived in a cultural bubble of sorts, enjoying any church we choose in our prosperous and affluent society. We’re so privileged that we can’t identify with what many of our brothers and sisters around the world experience in their cultures.
“You Americans will learn one day.”
With America becoming increasingly “post-Christian” (as identified by Barna Research Group), we’re watching the Bible become less and less relevant in our culture, and we’re experiencing the societal shifts. Laws are being rewritten, and our faith and witness is being tested. Our lives aren’t threatened (yet), but our reputations are.
And not just in our communities and workplaces.
Some are beginning to have their reputations threatened within the walls of their own churches.
Declining church membership, attendance and giving causes financial pressures for many churches. Those pressures may cause elder boards to consider ways to keep their pews and offering plates filled. One of the scariest ways is avoiding controversial subjects and not teaching the whole counsel of God.
We expect to face trouble from the world, but have we considered what we may face in our own churches? If we take a firm stand for truth, and make our voices heard in church leadership, are we prepared to be
- ridiculed for standing on God’s truth?
- ostracized from people we’ve served with?
- removed or asked to step down from leadership?
Peter and Jude both cautioned about those who would infiltrate the fellowship and deceive the believers. John warned Christians not to be led astray by their false teaching. Jesus Himself told us that many would fall away from the faith.
We often consider the cost of discipleship as we walk among the lost, but what about the cost when we have to stand firm in our churches?
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other…
but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
~Matthew 24:10b, 13 (NIV)
Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain