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.
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?