The messages I have been sharing at church recently centered on the persecuted church. Here in the U.S. we look at the persecution we see our brothers and sisters face in other parts of the world and pray it does not come here to greet us. But, has it not already visited us?
The purpose of persecution is to accomplish:
- To create fear in our hearts, to fear the ones that can injure our body or our status in society.
- Intimidation through this fear to hinder the sharing and spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Demonizing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through lies, misstatements and half truths and in effect minimize the words Christian will share.
- To physically kill those that will not stop sharing the Truth
Here in the U.S. we presently do not fear prison, torture, or physical death, but there are key elements of persecution that are occurring. We may not fear the bullet or sword, but we are fearing the stones that are being thrown. We are being persecuted by 1000 stones instead of one big element as a bullet or beheading.
Is persecution by a 1000 stones actually occurring? (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16)
- Intimidation – Look at the increase in fear and anxiety we have regarding sharing our faith in public, work, and school. Just sharing the name of Jesus Christ in public will make many people wince. We now often fear what people say about us when we share our belief and faith. We are told it is “unlawful” to share. We are told that if we disagree with teachings of evolution, homosexuality and gender issues we have no right to share our views or even believe in them, and in many cases are told we are breaking the law. Have we have moved closer to acting as an “underground” church in many respects keeping our faith and beliefs out of the public eye?
- Demonizing- You would be hard pressed not to agree that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Word have not been demonized and minimized over the past several decades.
- Share your belief and faith, share the truth of what God has written to us in His Word, and many times what are we told? We are called haters, small minded, weak minded, brain washed, judgmental, intolerant….the list can go on.
- The political process has entangle the Gospel and made it a part of a political system…something it was never intended to be.
- Our news media, History channel and other venues on TV and the internet have done all they can to share manipulated information to minimize Jesus, His Word, and His church.
There are more examples that can be drawn out, but just looking at the two items above is it not clear that persecution by a 1000 stones is occurring?
If this is persecution, is it effective?
This type of persecution has been tied into a society that has worked for 60 or more years to rid itself of belief in God. Add to this the belief that man is in charge and more recently the earth is in charge and man is the problem. Compounding this with our lives of materialism and this has created a perfect scenario for the type of persecution we see here in the U.S. to be extremely effective!
Here is some data that supports this thought:
These are the annual growth rates (AAGR) of those claiming to be Christian in countries where severe persecution of the Christian belief occurs.
Here in the U.S. the number of people claiming to be Christians has declined by over 7% from 1990 until 2012. I am sure that the decline has increased in the six years since 2012. The enemy’s plan of tactics and persecution are showing to be more effective here in the U.S. than the outright brutality of persecution used in the 10 countries that have shown the greatest increase in Christianity in the world.
So, what should you do?
- Read 1 Peter (Peter’s letter to the persecuted church on how the body should act)
- (Mark 8:38) Determine in yourself and your heart if you are truly a citizen in His Kingdom that will not deny his/her citizenship.
- (Romans 12) Find a body of believers that truly care for one another, support one another. The number in the congregation is not important, but are the fruit of the Spirit of God occurring among those in the body.
And stay tune, I am sure I will share more on this in the near future.