Being a Christian in the United States has been convenient in some ways. It was an accepted world view. Not everyone was happy with it, but there was no overt animosity toward Christendom. That convenience has been waning. I have been of the opinion that the benign opinion of the masses toward Christianity wouldn’t last. The church was birthed in persecution and hatred. The world’s response to the gospel has always ebbed and flowed over time. It is only natural that we would see another shift. Paul wrote, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). I didn’t see it coming so soon and quickly. The ire and animosity toward any conservative values is palpable now. Are we ready?
This is not a doom’s day message. This is a reality check. The danger of service to God was a daily reality for the early church and other brothers and sisters through time. Even now congregations are under attack in other countries like Nigeria by radical Islamists. This is from Sylvester Imogo, a brother in Nigeria: “But right now Muslim militia and terrorists have circulated virtually everywhere in the North and South [Nigeria]. Life for most people is unsafe. Ordinary trips to the market, farms, and other places of economic activities are now dangerous. And this is worsening the state of poverty and suffering. We are living every day at a time and looking forward to the day that God in His Providence would intervene.”
What are we doing to prepare ourselves for the future of the church in the U.S.? “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Heb. 12:3-4). Christ is our supreme example in all things. He didn’t promise a life free of suffering. He promised an eternal rest after this life. He needed to look forward to the reward, “who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross” (Heb 12:3). We need to strengthen our faith in the small choices, so that when the big things come along, we are already resolved to see this life as a Christian through to the end.
In comparison with eternity, the important things we need to focus on right now are not masks, not political affiliation, and not social injustice. Those are all things that would divide the church if we are not careful. The important things right now are these: Am I resolved to follow Christ no matter the cost? Am I resolved to help those around me? Am I resolved to maintain unity and the bond of peace in the church?