Friday, May 5, 2023
Last week I wrote about persecutions Jesus said Christians would face for being His followers. But in Western Christianity, and especially here in America, persecution of believers has been nearly non-existent, thanks to the freedoms of speech and religion enjoyed in this nation. But those freedoms are rapidly disappearing and believers must be prepared to make choices. In a few years true Christian freedoms in America will be lost because our faith stands as a threat to the returning and increasingly unrestrained anti-Christ wicked spirits now flooding the world.
In just a few years there will be a clear distinction between two types of Christian churches in America. The true Church, holding to repentance, humility and Christ-honoring sermons and soul-searching worship will meet in homes or go underground. The other church is organized, and will openly flourish by state-sanctioned, culture-affirming sermons and spirit-disquieting humanistic worship, dictated to by the government; that church will comply or be closed down.
Chinese Christians already know this to be true. There are two types of Christian churches in China: the true Church that meets in secrecy in homes or is totally underground, and the false state-sanctioned church that conducts itself according to the rules and dictates of the Chinese government. Likewise, there will be two churches in Western Christianity, and believers will need to decide to which church they will belong. The church that conforms to the government dictates will be virtually free, but the Church that meets in secret will indeed be persecuted.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and its government-mandated job-destroying lockdowns, face masking and vaccine mandates, not only the world, but notably the current organized churches have already been primed to obediently comply with such an authoritarian global government. Most churches were swift to comply with those government mandates, while the life-changing message of the cross of Jesus Christ suffered loss because those churches shut their doors in compliance to government dictates. COVID-19 was the testing grounds for obedience. And in the near future Christians will be forced to choose in which church they belong or identify.
Traditions have taught us that “the church” is a building, whether large or small, where people congregate en masse once or maybe twice a week, but to be a member of that church you must agree to the traditions and doctrines put forth by that church regardless of whether or not those mandates are biblical. But God wants you to know that the true Church is any place “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). It’s reported that people are fleeing organized churches because they are “Losing their religion”; another survey says “When people stop attending church these days, their pastors can’t expect them to return.” (Christianitytoday.com); and another survey says “Your Sunday productions have worn thin” (churchleaders.com). People leave organized churches for many valid reasons, but this yet remains: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:23–25). Some of us do see “the Day approaching”, and it must be our impetus to stay strong in the true Christian faith.
Marlin J. Yoder