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September 20, 2006

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Dar McCallum

Michael,

I agree with you for the most part. Satan has used his world system to capture the hearts of Christians, and we don't even know it. We have forgotten the tactics Satan uses to prevent us from sharing the Gospel. Instead of the Body of Christ influencing our culture, the culture has influenced the church. And this is where I’d like to suggest that there is an additional reason the church in the United States is not “persecuted.”
The church in the US (as well as in most of the West) has become an institution. Instead of being the “ekklesia,” the called out ones, the Body of Christ, we instead “go to church.” Church has become the place we go to instead of who we are. We have forgotten that the church is people.
Whenever we build institutions, we feel the need to protect it. We start talking about our constitutional rights, as though it is the government who is to protect us, who is to allow us our freedom. But the church belongs to Christ. He is the head of the church. He grows the church. He leads us “from victory to victory.” As has been proven in countries like China and India, people come to Christ because of persecution, not because they are free from persecution.
We build institutions because institutions take up less of our time. With an institution, we can put in our “God” time, then go back to our comfortable, American life undisturbed. We want our institutions because then we can pretend we are leading godly lives as we “go to church” but don’t lead the kind of lives that Jesus, Peter, Paul, John Wesley, the Moravians, etc., led. We have assigned the job of radical Christianity to the “professionals” because this allows us regular folk to lead selfish, comfortable, American lifestyles with merely the veneer of Christianity.
We are all called to lead radical Christian lives. We are the priesthood of believers. We are the “called out ones.” We are all called to love radically, unconditionally, with all that we are in Christ and with the power of Christ.
How many Christians lead the kind of lives talked about in Acts 2:
"Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;
and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."
Acts 2:43-47 (NASB)
Or Acts 4:
"And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales
and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need."
Acts 4:32-35 (NASB)
When we live like this – sacrificially, lovingly, committed – we will stand out. And then we will be persecuted. Jesus tells us that the world hated Him because of who He is. He loves. The world hates us when we are like Him.


brandon

Greetings in the name of our Lord!
I have read your article and and agree very much so that Christians are reluctant to move out of our comfort zones. And as you stated that our laws are making it more difficult to speak about our Lord which i find very troubling and trying to understand what truly our response is to be. Personally what i have read and understand of the Word is that we are not to compromise or be silenced for His name. Did'nt Peter and the apostles suffer physical pesecution because they refused to be silenced. Maybe if we were more willing to stand steadfastly for the name we claim to believe in and endure the sufferings and loses of what ever comforts that we might have accumilated over the years and be more willing to lose what ever materialism that goes along with the sufferins as well then maybe the people around us as well as in this country might see the true power of God and the unity of brotherly love. Phillipians 2:14-18 speak clearly of the suffering that Paul endured for our Lord and what came along with that is joy! What? One can have joy suffering according to Paul it is possible. So much so he urges us to rejoice in the same way and share inour joy with him, v18 says. Romans 12:1 says to offer our bodies as living and holy sacrifice. Maybe this sacrifice is truly suffering for His name sake. Was'nt our Lord the perfect sacrifice? Obeyed even until the point of death for the joy that was set before Him. One last remark if i may. I learned about this tax exempt status a year ago or so that churches have for whatever reason, for it is not law that they have it or submitt to it, and this has become very concerning to me, for a church submitting to this form of liscense if you will restricts what one can say from the pulpit and that has compromised the very power of God. If we are not willing to speak out against the wickedness that this government is perpatrating on it's people and as long as we don't interfere or talk against their agenda then we will not be persecuted for we have compromised with becoming incorporated with the system.

Michael De Rosa

Michael

I have heard that our nation's great wealth has blinded our eyes from seeing the power of God.

The idea of comfort zone that you brought up is not only interesting, but I think, correct: too many Christians are not willing to pay the price in order to witness.

Yet, the fault of this is rooted not in the individual Christian alone, but in the Christian church as a whole which has failed to preach the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. (Philippinas 3:10).

In recent years, though, Christians are taking note of the need to become authentic disciples of Christ as there is a sense of revival in the hearts of His people that has spread across denominational lines. I praise God for this as I too consider the persecution we are facing in this country, while knowing that He who is greater in me, than the Evil one is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Though the Church that Jesus established will win this fight, I pray that His people will seek to move out of their comfort zones into the harvest fields no matter what the cost.

I look back at Roe v. Wade and think about how that case was lost because 'the average Christian did not stand up for Right'.

Persecution is here, Michael, maybe not in the same degree as it is in other parts of our world, but I see a new generation rising that is willing to take on the evils of this society and I am greatful for this.

Because of Blogs like yours, we Christians will continue to hear the wake up call to stand firm in our faith! God alone will help us win this battle.

Gregory Cochran

Michael, you are definitely on the right track in your remarks. I think we all feel the way you do, even down to the disclaimer that you made about falling short. We are falling short of the full joy that comes with gospel sharing. Your question is penetrating--and biblical. Consider the promise from God's word that all who attempt to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). God's word teaches us that we should expect persecution if we are serious about our godliness.
Of course, we should not forget that many in America are suffering persecution in the form of insults and false accusations. These slanders ought not be glossed over simply because they do not compare to facing execution by the sword. These slanders, according to Jesus in Matthew 5:11, are forms of persecution. Many of us--by God's grace--have experienced these things even in America. Still, your point is well taken. One does wonder about the church in America as a whole, considering that friendship with the world is enmity toward God. Great post and great thought-provoking topic. Blessings in Christ

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