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Christians need to lose in order to win
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The American church is stagnant and dying.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have great hope for the future of Christianity in America, but the declining numbers in the church and the lack of fruit from the church show that Christianity in America is dying.
This imminent death isn’t because of a lack of funds or a lack of pastors.
America is the richest nation on earth. Per capita, the number of Christian workers in America far surpasses that of any other nation. Outside of maybe the Vatican City, America is the easiest place in the world to be a Christian. But despite all that, Christianity is on the decline here.
Many nations don’t have this problem. In China Christianity is booming. Millions upon millions of Chinese are trusting in Christ. Why? Because it’s hard to be a Christian in China.
The Chinese house churches are being persecuted. Christians are being tortured, losing their jobs, and even dying for their faith. Seemingly, it’s not the ideal environment for church growth, but the church is growing by leaps and bounds, not only despite but because of the persecution.
In America we have this outlook on life as Christians that any sort of perceived persecution is a bad thing.
If the government won’t allow some sort of public display of a person’s Christianity, no matter how legitimate the reason, we Americanized Christians like to denounce it as persecution. Any time a city refuses to acknowledge Christmas, we automatically feel as if we’re being persecuted for our faith.
Sorry to break the news, but we’re not being persecuted.
There may be very minor and isolated cases of Christians being persecuted in the United States, but the American church as a whole has never faced any form of persecution. In fact, virtually all American Christians, myself included, have never seen or experienced any type of repercussions for our faith. And it shows in how we live.
If there’s one reason why American Christianity is going down the toilet right now, it’s because in America it’s so easy to be a Christian. Actually, it’s more than easy.
In America it’s actually beneficial to be a Christian. Show me a presidential candidate who doesn’t make it known that he or she is a Christian, and I’ll show you a presidential candidate whose campaign is dead on arrival.
Christian athletes — Tim Tebow, anyone? — are virtually idolized for their faith. We all have it easy when it comes to being a Christian. We can go to church and read the Bible, and if we’re really committed, we’ll tithe and go on a mission trip several times a decade. And that’s it.
America is a nation that has appreciated Christianity throughout its history. And while that appreciation may have dwindled some in the past century, Christianity is still a major facet of this nation. Considering how easy it is to be a Christian in America, Christianity should be booming here.
But just the opposite is true.
Jesus said “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”’
Jesus obviously had a high view of those who were persecuted for their faith, so why are we so paranoid about being persecuted? I want to see a revival in America.
I want people to turn to the saving grace and undying hope found in Jesus. And I think the only way that will happen is if Christians are persecuted in America.
I’m not saying this for the shock factor; I truly believe it. I want to see the persecution of Christians in America. Not because I have some sick desire to see people suffer, but because I have a desire to see the love of Jesus shared with all people. And unfortunately that’s not happening in our easy, no-pain, Americanized culture of Christianity.
I’ve been a part of conversations where people look with apprehension towards a possible future in America when Christians are persecuted for their beliefs.
When I look at a future in America when Christians are persecuted, I see pain and a temporary downsizing of the Church, but ultimately I see a chance for Jesus to move powerfully in America.
And I want Jesus to move powerfully, not only in America but in the whole world.
If persecution in America means that the name of Jesus will be spread, we should all be in favor of persecution, even if that means we will suffer.
(Elijah Friedeman, author of The Millennial Perspective, is the grandson of Janice Friedeman, Great Bend. His columns can also be heard on his father, Matt Friedeman’s, radio program on American Family Radio.)