We are one church. One Church. One Body. The Body of Christ. And as such, what is happening to persecuted Christians globally is happening to all of us. God may well also visit the blessing of persecution on us. How would you like to meet underground?
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
In Syria, many new Christians are afraid to meet in large church meetings because of fear of the Islamic brotherhood. Therefore, the church meets in small group settings in an underground-church model. The persecution of these new Christians can lead to terrible consequences, such as families breaking up as Islamic family members are afraid of staying with Christian family members who follow Jesus.
In North America, where I live, needing to meet underground is a foreign concept. We have the freedom to worship how we please under constitutional rights. True, there can be cultural implications, and conversion from another faith can lead to strife in families even here. In this way, at have something in common with those in places like Syria.
And we have more in common than that. As I heard from missionaries recently, we are one church. One Church. One Body. The Body of Christ. And as such, what is happening in Syria to some of our Body is happening to all of us.
This reality of the persecuted Church goes back to the early church in Acts. Peter and John were arrested for teaching the people and proclaiming, in Jesus, the resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2-4). Still, God moved and thousands came to know Jesus. The church withstood the stoning of Stephen and the organized persecution of Saul.
God’s response to all this was to convert Saul the persecutor and turn him into one of the pillars of the early Church: the Apostle Paul. How could this be? I am reminded what I reflected on a few days ago, we serve the God of the impossible.
God can, will, and is doing amazing things in the global church. The local North American church should also be careful, according to these missionary friends: When you sit back and fail to share the gospel and enjoy the safety of church in North America where we are are not persecuted, God will send us the blessing of persecution. Persecution is coming.
No one wants that. We view it a sign of God’s absence. Where are you God? Well, God is right here, right now, wondering why we aren’t more eager to serve him and follow him and share him. Thanks for the kick in the pants, missionary friends. We needed it…