Christianity has ebbed in flowed in America since the pilgrims landed. There was ebb; then Awakening. Another ebb, another Awakening. In that second waking time, America freed slaves, prohibited abortion, introduced mandatory education, and enacted child labor laws. We regulated medical care to protect people from untrained quacks. We required employers to take steps to protect employees, steps that often required businesses to lose money.
We weren’t perfect. But we were better than we had been.
World War I came, an ebbing, the Roaring ’20s, more ebbing. Then the Great Depression, a flat line, followed by World War II, a resurgence of faith.
Then the ’60s came with the sexual revolution. And even with the ups and downs of the economy over the years, comfort and ease increased. In the 1980s, Christianity, especially the Christian Right, enjoyed an influence unparalleled since the Second Great Awakening.
Yet another ebbing followed with continued comfort for many and a discouraged malaise for others.
Through the last few decades the sexual revolution escalated. It became the Culture War. It gained intensity, declining into a shouting match. Angry people spewed hate from both sides.
It’s a delicate balance to speak truth and show love. Shouting, name calling, and snarky social media posts are not loving. They don’t make people yearn to have what we have or to be what we are.
If we show love and speak truth and suffer persecution, then we get what Jesus promised us. “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you,” John 15: 18.
If we show love and speak truth and people’s lives are transformed–if there is another awakening, where will we go from there?
Back to our comfort? Or beyond to a new mission?
In his travels to places where Christians aren’t as comfortable as America, pastor and author Francis Chan sees a contrast between the comfortable but angry Christians here and the persecuted but joyful ones in countries hostile to the Gospel.
“[I]n China, believers in the underground church told Chan about the persecution they endure from the government. But what surprised the American pastor was that they had so much joy and were laughing when they told stories of being chased by police and authorities shooting guns to scare them. They thought it was normal to be persecuted and that Christians everywhere suffered like them, explained Chan. The underground Christians in China pointed to Philippians 1:29, which states, ‘For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.’
“Chan shared that in America, Christians change churches over better worship music, service time, or daycare programs. The Chinese Christians laughed at him thinking he was telling a joke because it did not make sense.”
We cannot be a church that is fearful. Fearful that our freedom will dissolve. Fearful we will suffer persecution. Fearful that America will stop being America.
To not live in fear, we must ask ourselves this question: Do we really fear the loss of our freedom or simply the loss of our comfort?
22 Replies to “To Not Live in Fear”
Amen to this and especially to “We cannot be a church that is fearful.” We are the church… all of us individual souls, wherever we are in the world and in life, whatever difficulties surround us. Individually, we must do our part to triumph over fear and spread the Gospel truth so ALL may know the Lord. When we rise up individually, the collective church is strong and united!
I especially love your last sentence, Jessica. The Church is made of individuals. May we be the Church in each of our communities. Thanks and God bless!
We don’t realize how blessed we are, not to suffer the persecution Christians in other parts of the world are experiencing. An important reminder for us to be grateful instead of whining. Another lesson we can learn from those persecuted Christians is the courage to share our faith with others. Yours is a powerful message–a call to action. Thank you.
Gratitude keeps us positive, and it’s something most of us need to remember. I know I do. Thank you, Katherine. God bless!
“Do we really fear the loss of our freedom or simply the loss of our comfort?” Am I afraid of losing my American freedoms more than I am of losing my religious freedom? Are they synonymous? Am I afraid at all? Do I want to be free more than I want to be comfortable? Lots of questions came rushing at me as I read your post Ms. Nancy. Am I afraid? No! Am I saddened by what I observe in this nation and in the American and global Christian church? Absolutely. While the deception of the church is not, and cannot be complete, as long we stand squarely upon the Word of God, then there’s a chance for yet another resurgence of real, true faith in America. Will that happen, I am hopeful, but my life in Christ does not rely upon it. Are my American and religious liberty synonymous? They should be, as I believe that is the very cornerstone of this nation’s founding. Yet, if I’m honest, I don’t believe they are any more. Note that I chose the word liberty and not freedom. Freedom is a right granted by government. Liberty is a freedom given by God, that no man can take away for my liberty in Christ is something within me that no man can ever take. Oh, they try, and will continue doing so, but can never succeed; with God’s help. I will endure. Loved the post, thoughts, and questions you raise. Ones that we must all consider.
Thanks for your deep reply, JD. I love your point distinguishing between freedom and liberty. We can pray for the resurgence of faith, but you’re so right that our faith does not depend on that. God bless!
” a contrast between the comfortable but angry Christians here and the persecuted but joyful ones in countries hostile to the Gospel” … wow, how ironic.
My next post is going to be a prayer for the suffering Church. I hope you’ll join me.
Ironic is very descriptive. I look forward to your next word. Thanks and God bless!
Powerful observations. Christians undergoing persecution in other countries are actually praying for us in the U.S. because our comfort and convenience are becoming more to us than sharing the gospel.
It is profound to consider that believers in other places feel sorry for us because of our comfort. Thanks, Ava. God bless!
I’m afraid we Americans mostly fear the loss of our comfort. It’s a delicate balance to speak truth and show love, you stated. This is true. Shouting, name calling, and snarky social media posts are not loving. And yet we still engage in these if we are stuck in immaturity. They don’t make people yearn to have what we have or to be what we are. That is for sure, which is probably one reason why church attendance is waning.
Schools ceased teaching logic long ago, so people don’t know how to engage in discourse effectively. That’s one way we reduced argument to name calling and shouting. May we find our way to effective, loving persuasion. Thanks, Melinda. God bless!
Our lives will be filled with trials and temptations. We must stand firm and share His love and His message. We can find comfort knowing God is always with us.
Amen, Melissa. Thanks and God bless!
Great post Nancy and full of lots of truth. Fear is a weapon by the enemy and causes so many to doubt God. We must stand firm.
We must, indeed, Yvonne. Thanks and God bless!
Powerful message, Nancy. Chan’s writings and sermons have always resonated with me on the stark differences between the church and Christianity in America compared to around the globe. I agree, it is a delicate balance to speak truth and show love. When we look at the life of Jesus, He never compromised truth in order to love people. Not one time.
Truth is where we begin. It is a priori to faith. That’s pretty theoretical. Love is the support for truth. Speaking the truth in love is our calling. Thanks, Karen. God bless!
You close with an important question we all should consider, Nancy. I have long believed that America, and American Christians in particular, must lose financial comfort to revive wholehearted love for God. It seems we may have an opportunity to test our devotion ahead of us. I pray the tough times awaken another flow. We can trust God for whatever lies ahead.
Amen, Annie. Thanks and God bless!
“Do we really fear the loss of our freedom or simply the loss of our comfort?” Great question and challenge for us, Nancy.
Thanks, Debbie. God bless!