Having visited Indonesia recently, a land where Christianity is the minority religion, I gained a new perspective on our faith in adversity. In a land where their faith is tolerated at best, but against the law to be publically proclaimed or practiced outside of their homes and churches, believers walk a tightrope to live for Christ and fulfill the Great Commission. They have a depth of love for Christ and passion for worshipping together that is humbling and inspiring. Their faith strengthened in an environment that considers them “rogue”, Christians in Indonesia know what it means to “count the cost”.
Back stateside, Christianity has traditionally been widely accepted across America, is even the foundation of our culture, laws, and system of government. Although these foundations are being relentlessly attacked and undermined, we still largely identify ourselves as a Christian nation. Christ-followers, however increasingly ridiculed for their faith, still do not face the oppression and persecution fellow believers face in so many other places around the globe, and through the ages.
We attend churches with big buildings, big staffs, big programs, big budgets, big crowds… and big debts. On any Sunday, our churches are filled with attenders, “spectators”, who rarely participate or give. Throughout history, when Christianity was “vogue” in a society, it became complacent, institutional, distorted, and even itself oppressive of non-adherents. Take the Crusades, Christendom prior to the Reformation, and the Salem Witch Trials as a few examples.
Christianity was not birthed, nor does it thrive, in an environment of wide-spread acceptance and acclaim. It was never meant to. Jesus Himself even said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first” and “blessed are you when men revile you, persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake” (John 15:18, Matthew 5:11). Our faith and our calling has always been stronger, been purer, been most effective, when viewed as “rogue” rather than “vogue” in a society. If (or when) persecution ever comes to the Church in America, as in so many other places around the world and through the ages, I believe the “chaff” will be burned off, and Christianity will be reduced (or returned) to its foundations. I’m not praying for persecution, believe me. What I am praying for is true revival, in my life and in the American Body of Christ.
May we be ready to go “rogue” if we find ourselves out of “vogue”.