Fear tactics are effective motivators for people. If you watch television commercials closely you will see that sex or fear (or sometimes both) are being used to compel you to buy something. Politicians use fear to try to frame the opposing candidate as the one who will bring down America. Even the title of this blog post uses a well-known fear to get you to read. Nothing riles up Christians quite like our religious liberties being attacked. We often say, “Our rights are going way!” or “We are being persecuted for our faith!” News channels and politicians capitalize on the fear that these things create in Christians. These are two ideas that I find frankly laughable.
It is true that our society, government and power structures are becoming more hostile to true Christianity. It is hard to read the news today and not observe that. Obama is trying to require Christian Institutions to provide something that is inherently against their stated ethics. A small group in California was being fined for having regular meetings in their home. For Christians these are just but of few more signs of a society growing in hostility towards faith, and in particular Judeo-Christian faith.
I want to offer a slightly different take on these things and provide a little historical perspective. Most people know that Christianity started as a small sometimes persecuted faith. The Jews, the Romans, and most local societies persecuted Christians. They were persecuted because they would not participate in the rituals of that society. They were persecuted because they made radical claims about Jesus. They offended the current philosophies and world view of the day. They caused businesses to dry up because they converted people away from idol worship. Societies will tolerate almost anything until you attack their money or their peace.
In the early 300s Constantine legalized Christianity and made it the state religion. For many this was and is a great day for Christianity. Finally, Christians would not be persecuted and the faith would spread unabated. However, this moment marked actually one of the biggest attacks on Christianity ever conceived. Christ became mingled with the State and Christians became the puppets of whatever government institution wanted to use them. As time passed, Christians sought to grab temporal power instead of recognizing the tremendous spiritual power available through Christ and the Holy Spirit. They sacrificed real power and truth for a pitiful and weak substitute.
For roughly the last 1600 years Christianity and the State have been mixed together in stranglehold that has largely removed the life and power from real faith. I am largely speaking of Christianity from a Western bias; this is not the story of Christianity in the world-wide theatre.
As I observe the growing hostility towards Christianity in our society, I cannot help but be a little relieved. I think this marks a sign that Christians are finally beginning to be the true salt and light they are supposed to be. The truth of the message of Christ is beginning to be more dominant again. Christians are refusing to be the puppets of the government or a certain political party. What does the puppet master do with a puppet that is no longer of any use? He disposes of it. Christians must continue to stand strong against the manipulative attacks of our society, corporations, government and political parties. We must not be their pawns; rather we must seek to walk in perfect harmonious step with Christ. We must do only what we see the Father doing!
Now some of us get fearful at the infringement of religious freedom in America as it relates to Christianity. I believe this reveals in us a certain weakness of faith. We erroneously believe that the world institutions can destroy the true Church. We often see Jesus as the Savior, Friend, Lord, and Brother, but do we really see Jesus as the KING!! Do we really believe that? He is the King!! No scheme of satan or of man will have any success against the King, the TRUE KING. We need to adjust our view of Jesus and the power of His Kingdom as it manifests on this Earth. Worldly institutions are hostile to true Christianity because they recognize the true spiritual power of Christ and not the weak temporal power of government! So as our faith is being attacked, be at peace and rest in this fact: This is good news and evidence that God’s Kingdom is at work in this world and we are right in the middle of it.
So let us not be fearful, because we serve the only true King and His Kingdom is powerful. It conquers the world systems, time, nations, hearts, minds, and souls. Our King is a conqueror in His way, not ours. He does not use military might to usher in His Kingdom, He uses love. He is not a destroyer of life; He is a destroyer of sin. His Kingdom will not pass away! Let us face this world and this time in remembrance of the real King.
Lord grant us the faith and endurance to handle this. May we always represent your grace and forgiveness as we encounter hostility and derision. Make your presence obvious in all those who follow after you. May your Kingdom come and may your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.