The church in the West has enjoyed a few centuries of trouble-free existence and we have become accustomed to a Christianity without persecution. This is, however, not the kind of discipleship that Jesus had in mind as He promised us a lifestyle of persecution.
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant 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 15:20
When I saw the persecuted church with my own eyes, I realized that they had something that we do not have in the West – an uncommon resilience among the followers of Christ. There was a purity of heart even though they did not have the knowledge that we have after centuries of unrestricted teaching. So may women came to me after a service asking for prayer for their husbands who ended up in prison for their faith. They became single mothers, stigmatized because of their faith and the fact that their husbands were incarcerated, often unemployed. Yet, in their hardship, they remained faithful and continued in their faith walk.
Many of them took time off work to attend a service in an underground church because somebody came to teach the Word to them. Services last a whole day and into the night because the price they pay to be there is simply too high for a meeting of just an hour or two. No wonder we saw so may healings and other miracles happen there and so many that came to bow before Jesus, surrendering their lives to His lordship.
I began to understand that our freedom with government support and protection became the weakness of the Western church. Things that don’t really matter become reasons to leave a church, or to go where one’s preferences can be satisfied. Brand names, denominational cultures and the like are absent in countries where the church is oppressed, but they know how to pray and fight the fight of faith. Answer to prayer is as common as serving time in prison. For them but, as with the first disciples, there is nowhere else to go:
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. John 6:68
Our world is changing fast and persecution of Christians in the West is on the rise. The church in North America is beginning to see society turn against it. From elementary schools to the military, those that believe in the Lord Jesus Christ begin to experience resistance, rejection, mockery, bullying and even sentences by courts of justice on a daily basis. City councils make life difficult for the church to take advantage of their rights through zoning of properties, public witness and performances, etc.
It would be wrong to say that all will be fine and that we will overcome, but the words of Jesus keep ringing in our ears, “If they hated Me, they will hate you too.” (John 15:18)
We hear more and more voices of God’s servants warning us that tough times are ahead for the church. A shaking is about to take place and a process of purification is in the works.
…that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:27
How devoted are you to the Lord, and the cause for which He laid down His life? Will you still follow Him when it comes at a price?