14 April, 2014

Thinking Out Loud

I've been doing a lot of thinking since receiving the news last night about the house church in Pakistan being raided and the leader killed and the rest put into prison.  This tragedy and countless events we read about and see just does not line up with our Americanized version of Christianity... does it? It seems that most American Christians think that being a Christian means we can pray and God is our genie in the sky to give us everything we ask for. Like it or not, sometimes God's answer to our prayer is "no."  I have absolutely no doubt that these precious believers have prayed for protecton from their enemies and persecutors. Does the fact that their worship service was raided (again) and believers beaten and cast into prison (again) and their leader killed before their eyes mean that God somehow failed them, or that they are "lessor" as Christians? Not at all!  

It is really hard for us to understand in this culture where we've had hundreds of years of freedom to worship as we pleased, but events like this have been the "norm" around the world the entire time that we've enjoyed this freedom. Personally, I believe that the church of America has become soft because we've misunderstood and abused the freedom of religion that we have. This freedom has created a fertile environment for false teaching and misunderstanding of what it means to serve Christ. We simply do not hear passages like 2 Timothy 3:10-17 preached and taught from the American pulpit. What does that passage say? Hold on to your seats... because it flies in the face of what you've most likely been taught all your life... 
"But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.  Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,  and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

So, if ALL Scripture is given by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction and instruction... why are we failing to teach that if you desire to live a godly life then expect persecution. In other words... things are not always going to go your way. You may "lose" from the worlds perspective! It's rather ironic that we read in the Bible itself how that great persecution came up on the church when they (the Christians) did the work of Christ. And the more they were persecuted, the more the church grew and spread.  Yet, today in America we preach prosperity and blessings and a god that makes you feel good about yourself while you live as you please... and the church in America is shrinking in record numbers. 

I think it is high time the church in America takes a good look at itself and ask why we are not facing the persecution that we see in the Bible and we hear of in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other places around the world. Could it be we are but a fading shadow of what the church used to be? Just thinking out loud today.

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