The interview was wrapping up when the reporter asked a prominent leader in the rapidly expanding Chinese house church movement how American Christians could pray for believers in China.
“Stop praying for persecution in China to end,” the leader responded, “for it is through persecution that the church has grown.”
What astounding faith he demonstrated. My admiration of his faith was quickly tempered by what he said next. “In fact, we are praying that the American church might taste the same persecution, so revival would come to the American church like we have seen in China.”
Once I recovered from the shock of such a disturbing yet profound statement, I thought about the irony. We in America keep praying for God to bless us, while persecuted Christians in other nations are praying God will dismantle our arrogance through suffering so that we will become the vibrant and significant blessing God made us to be.
The Bible is replete with examples of God humbling the haughty. Arrogance followed by judgment is a recurring theme. Survey the Old Testament and confirm it for yourself.
Before dismissing those examples as ancient history, flip to Revelation and read Christ’s seven letters to the churches. More specifically, read what Jesus said to the church of Sardis: “I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die….” (Revelation 3:1-2, HCSB).
John Burke, lead pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, Texas, has made indicting statements about the state of the Western church. “Unless Christians leading the church in America change, and unless the church begins living out the magnetic attractive force Jesus had on the world, the Christian church in America will be completely marginalized within decades,” he wrote. His concern is rapidly becoming reality.
Some time ago USA Today published “Religion Takes a Back Seat in Western Europe.” The article details the enormous drop in church attendance in Western Europe over the past several decades. The reasons identified for the drop are “Europe’s turbulent history, an increasing separation between the church and government and the continent’s unprecedented affluence.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press