Something hit me last night, and it was a really sobering thought. I am having a hard time shaking it, and it's causing more and more things to dawn on me that I just can't ignore. Here's the initial thought, and how it got started in my mind.
I read a status post by Mark Driscoll, the founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. If you are interested in knowing who he is, all you have to do is Google him, you'll find tons of info! Anyway....he posted that the state of NY ruled that churches can no longer rent out public school facilities in order to hold services. For this reason, I think he said it was 68 churches would no longer have a place to meet. My first thought? Oh, that's persecution! And it is....I am really so tired of the leaders in this country taking the whole separation of church and state thing so FAR out of context, as to use it for things like this. It just helps them to justify their rebellion towards God. But, my second thought was....Wait. This is what I call persecution? When I know perfectly well that Christians in other countries are being tortured and killed for their faith on a daily basis? Hmmmm, so I guess we're not exactly suffering for our beliefs in America. Not in that way.
Then I asked myself, "Why not?" The answer came to me very suddenly and the reality of it was sickening, stopping me in my tracks. I know the reason. And it's not a good one. Oh, you have probably heard people say that we live in this great, Christian nation, where we are free to worship God, and how that is such a blessing, and how thankful we are to have what so many other countries don't! And while I admit, it is nice to have freedom of speech and to worship the way I choose, this is not the reason why we don't face persecution in America.
The reason is because we are collectively living a watered down, hypocritical, go-through-the-motions type of Christianity. I have been guilty of this many times, and still am, though I am becoming more and more aware of it, and am hoping and praying that God will change me! I think Satan doesn't attack believers here as much as he does other places because....well, there isn't much he needs to do. We're already doing it. We're already addicted to our comfortable lifestyles, and attending church as a hobby (meaning whenever there isn't something better to do). We are already not loving whole heartedly, not giving selflessly, and putting just about anything and everything before God. Why does Satan need to throw persecution in the mix? We are already living a defeated life, as poor representations of who Jesus is. We aren't taking up our crosses, because that's too hard, and it's much easier to just get absorbed in all that our "wonderful" country has to offer us.
This is sometimes why I am pulled to live in another country. Of course to serve God, but there are always opportunities to serve Him wherever we are. I don't think it's only possible to serve Him if I leave the US. But, I do think that maybe it would make me a lot less comfortable, and a lot more reliant on Him. My hope and prayer is that He would change me into someone who wants and needs the things that only come from God....His grace, mercy, peace, strength, and forgiveness. This is all I need to survive. Yet how many times to I think I need this or want that? Too many times to count. It's so easy to get caught up in this culture, that screams to every single person that you need more, and better, and bigger, and newer than everybody else. But it's all lies. Derrick used to tell me when we first got married that he'd be happy if we lived in a cardboard box, because we'd still have God. I have to admit, I've struggled with that way of thinking, because it's so hard for me to let go of my comforts. But when it comes down to it, I know he's right. Living in America makes it SO hard for me to remember that, though. With every modern convenience so easily accessible, how can I help but forget what really matters?
If you are a believer, I ask you to consider your own life for a moment. When it comes down to it, what truly matters to you? If every comfort you enjoy was gone tomorrow, would God still be enough? I ask myself this question all the time, and most of the time I am ashamed at my answer. But God knows my heart, there is nothing I can hide from Him...and He knows that deep down, I want to grow closer to Him, and to desire Him more. I'm not where I should be, but by His grace, He will teach me more and more, if I am willing to learn.
I am sad and burdened to see our country where it is at, and that Christianity seems to be just about blended in with everyone else these days. We don't stand out because we have lost our first Love (Jesus), and we are loving things that don't matter. We live just like people who don't love God. Why would they want to believe what we believe, when there is really no difference? These questions haunt me tonight...and I hope they will have an affect on you, too, as you read this.
I think about this all the time, and I hope and pray that the decisions I make from this point on will reflect a life of someone who loves God more than anything else. I know I will fail, but I'm thankful that He is teaching me, and hasn't given up on me! I know He never will. :o) Praise God for that!