It seems I can’t go anywhere these days (especially Facebook) without hearing about the latest attack on Christianity. People won’t keep Christ in Christmas. Government officials are removing prayers from their meetings and nativity scenes from public property. A & E just suspended Phil Robertson, the star of the popular show Duck Dynasty, for saying homosexuality is a sin during an interview. It seems everywhere you look, the secularists are increasing in both number and volume. They are pushing back against those who claim to follow Christ and sticking it in our craw with all their fine rules and regulations designed to keep us in line.
And I, for one, couldn’t be more excited about it.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
I want to be perfect and complete, don’t you? I am ready! I’m tired of a weak, watered-down faith that trembles in the face of hardship. I’m sick of seeing Christians in America–who have never had to worry about being beheaded in the night for their beliefs like others I could name–fly into a raging panic the second a new piece of legislation sans the word “God” pops up for a vote on Capitol Hill, calling it a sign that the Church is toppling and all of our children will someday be godless atheists.
Let me just rock your world for a second: WITHOUT A TRUE TESTING OF YOUR FAITH, YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE GODLESS ATHEISTS. Your children need to see Phil Robertson suspended from his show. It might make them sad, but it’s good for them. They need to see that speaking and living according to one’s faith in Christ is not without consequences. It shouldn’t be without consequences. Jesus didn’t intend for this thing to be easy. He demanded that our words be with grace and to live at peace, as best we could, with all people. But at the end of the day, it’s not about being comfortable. It’s not about having the popular vote. It’s not about putting a Christian in the White House. It’s not even about being right. It’s about walking in redemption and making disciples of all men. Redemption and discipleship are often bloody, lonely roads. Just ask Jesus.
“Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” (Matthew 21:44)
Some people might say, “But when someone threatens to trample on our rights, shouldn’t we fight back? I mean, we can’t just stand back and let the other side win!” And to that, I would laugh. Because even if they and every other Christian on the planet gave up and joined the other side in their cause, they could not win. It’s impossible. Jesus defeated the wicked systems of this world when he rose from the dead. This battle has long since been decided. Why do you still walk in fear and loathing?
And what rights? The rights granted to us by a humanistic, secular government? The same government that Christ will overthrow when he returns to earth to reign forever? In whom do we have our trust, here?
Persecution is what separates the disciples from the converts. Jesus speaks of this in the parable of the sower:
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: […] The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” (Matthew 13:18, 20-21)
In other words, Christ allows persecution to come our way to see what we’re made of. And when those who were just warming pews decide to fall away, it means the Church experiences a renewal. In that moment, true fellowship can occur. In that moment, God’s life-changing truth springs forth in a fresh revival.
You know what I see when persecution comes? An opportunity to exercise extreme grace toward those who are lost. An opportunity to draw closer to my Lord. An opportunity to grow and walk deeper in my faith–even if the trial is painful, humiliating, and exposes all of my worst flaws. Because that’s what persecution is: an opportunity for God’s glory to shine with a dazzling brilliance that cannot be quenched or ignored.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
If anyone’s claim is that the Church is crumbling under an assault of secularism, then the Church was not of God to begin with. And if that’s the case, it should crumble. The Church cannot accomplish anything for the Kingdom of God apart from Him. We can only make a mess of it.
All my life, I grew up hearing that, someday, real persecution would come to Christians in America. Someday, we’d be publicly slandered, or bullied in the streets, or hauled away to jail for simply quoting the Bible or refusing to engage in the world’s fraud. I think that day is still coming. Jesus assured all of his disciples that they would face persecution for the gospel’s sake, and those who endured would receive a great reward. Yet I see so many believers angry, fearful, and doing everything they can to keep the cards stacked in their favor. Why? They only lose if they forfeit Christ.