When the church is persecuted and has to go underground, it exponentially becomes more powerful. Why is this? It’s because the church has to become more dependent on the very Life of Christ. When we’re free and un-afflicted we can become lax, but when we experience persecution, we are forced to require our very Life from God.
Ripe for Persecution
Our world has turned politically correct and crazy. A demand for safe spaces and cries of “Don’t Tread on ME!” has become the norm. “You” can say anything you desire, yet “I” must hold my tongue. Patriotism or conservative views “deserve” violent assault in lieu of argument. When even the mention of my God is seen as accosting someone, we have entered a land ripe for persecution.
Of course, Christianity and Christians bear the targeted mark. It’s no wonder, God is ALWAYS in the cross-hairs of persecution. And why wouldn’t He be? This world is in a struggle for His Power over His universe. We, God’s children, are just easy access to abuse Jesus Christ.
Past Persecution of the Church
How has persecution served the church? Let’s look at China. For hundreds of years, western missionary outreach to China yielded around 800,000 conversions in total. But then came the Cultural Revolution and the church was persecuted and driven underground. Believers had to meet in secret.
When the strict communist curtain was lifted a bit not too long ago, something amazing was revealed. The church had not been crushed as feared. Quite the contrary, it had grown by the millions. It has been recorded in my lifetime that during this season of persecution, the number of believers leaped up to between 50 and 100 million. This is the principle of multiplication in persecution. The church thrives in persecution, not in spite of it.
We have seen this many times in history. Even the first century church experienced this. The Roman persecution and martyring of the believers made the numbers increase not decrease. Yes, historically the church flourishes in its persecuted state.
Persecution the Answered Prayer
How much of what we are witnessing in the United States today is just God-inspired persecution? Could this era of anarchy, hatred, and rebellion simply be the foundation for the revival for which we have been praying? Might this all be a launching pad for answered prayer?
When I pray for revival, I expect thieves, prostitutes, politicians, and addicts to throw up their hands and embrace Jesus. Maybe an End Times prayer for revival is answered in much the same way as the first century church: through much persecution and trials. The first century church lived under great persecution, including martyrdom by being fed to lions.
What if His faithfulness is being witnessed in the reviling of authority, the godless view of gender, and the violent aggression of the anarchists? Might not all of this just be the heat to make the church burn bright?
Persecution in the Word
“I promise you,” returned Jesus, “nobody leaves home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property for my sake and the Gospel’s without getting back a hundred times over, now in this present life, homes and brothers and sisters, mothers and children and land—though not without persecution—and in the next world eternal life. But many who are first now will then be last, and the last now will then be first.”
Mark 10:30-31 Phillips
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:35-37 ESV