Friend Evelyn wrote the following in a response to “Getting the Church to Sail”:
Do we have to suffer persecution, like they do in the 3rd world countries before we fall on our faces before Him; begging forgiveness for our apathetic lives? The persecuted church is the one that is growing, and they are suffering death and imprisonment every day for their faith; yet they won’t recant that faith.
I know other friends who think the same thing. I’ve stated publicly my belief that persecution is coming to the Western Church, as it gains intensity in the rest of the world. But I only half agree with Evelyn (sorry Mimi). Now I admit, despite being urged by professors, I chose not pursue a Doctorate of Ministry, and it wouldn’t have been in Christian history if I had; so I don’t claim to have seriously studied this. But it seems to me that the persecution of Christians and growth of the church don’t have to correlate.
That was the case, I believe, in Japan where Christianity was hounded to virtual extinction at one point (I’m relying on fuzzy memory here). Egypt’s Coptic Church never really thrived until recently despite existing in a difficult culture for almost twelve hundred years or so (since whenever Egypt became primarily Muslim). I think that what has contributed to the deluge of new followers of Jesus in places of Christian persecution is a corresponding disruption of the surrounding culture. It may be when evil targets all citizens, not just Jesus followers; but certainly when people across the spectrum begin to discover that everything they were taught about how life was supposed to work is invalid. When people discover that the important truths and values they based life upon are a lie, they become disillusioned and find themselves starving for what is true. At that point selling out to Jesus, even though it will paint a target on their backs, is attractive.
That’s what i was thinking but didn’t want to say when I wrote “Getting the Church to Sail”. Very likely it is persecution that will bring Spirit awakening to the Western Church, because it will then be vulnerable, and therefore on its face before the Lord, absolute trust being its only recourse. Spiritual hunger will drive the non-believer to Jesus because all else has collapsed; comfort, convenience, and security have so utterly failed them that following Jesus heart, soul, mind, and strength is the crystal clear alternative.
That’s why I’ve been saying, begin now:
- To love
- To forgive
- To recognize evil
- To understand what you believe
But, shh. No one really wants to hear that, even if they’re thinking it.