“When the church is ostracized and suffering, we’re following in the footsteps of Jesus. We’re joining our King in exile.”
– Elliot Clark
I’ve been a part of those church visitation programs before. You know what I mean. THOSE visitation programs. On a given weeknight the church (the few that the pastor successfully convinced to show up) goes door to door begging old members to come back to church. Typically, on the way to each house there is a depressed conversation about how they used to have more numbers, more programs, and baptisms every Sunday. It often sounds like the groanings of defeat. I think it is an opportunity for a much needed change in perspective.
Us American Christians always talk about how we wish our churches were more like the early church. If our country ever begins to imprison and execute us for Jesus then we will finally have our chance. We also readily exclaim, “We want to be where Jesus is!” But do we know what we are saying?
We have only begun to face a LITTLE political pressure and many Christians have already buckled to the culture. The “great falling out” we are seeing amongst our churches is simply due to the fact that Christianity is no longer in vogue. And we who remain are already feeling defeated.
What about when the real persecution hits? If and when our turn for persecution comes, are we ready to follow in the footsteps of the King, even if it means going all the way to the cross?
What we are seeing in our day in America is not the falling away of the church, but the revealing of the Church. We have always been the minority. We have always been the remnant.
Jesus did not say, “I will make my church the popular cultural trend.” He said, “I will build my church.” For too long, we have been looking to the shrinking numbers in our churches and feeling depressed because “things aren’t how they used to be.” Let’s begin looking to those still among us and saying, “These are my brothers. These are my sisters. We are the church of Jesus Christ.”
No more desperately begging people to come back to “our church” like timid, whooped puppy dogs. It’s time to boldly call people to Jesus like we truly believe He is victorious! Many will reject our pleas, but not all. We may face persecution, but in doing so we will be counted with Christ. Even if many church buildings have to shut their doors, remember this. Throughout the centuries church buildings have been burned, bulldozed, and declared illegal. But after all of that the Church still stands.
So chin up, Church! The Lord still has “many people in this city.” (Acts 18:10)