Today, I read a blog post over at The Gospel Coalition on whether persecution is getting better or worse in China. It’s an informative read for those who want to keep up with global missions and who pray for the persecuted church. Something else drew my attention though.
…according to Liu Peng of the Pacific Institute for Social Sciences, a Beijing-based think tank focusing on issues related to religion and law, all of the government’s previous eradication attempts [of house churches] have proved ineffective:
They may be effective in the short run, but in the long run, they are ineffective, risky, and lead to escalating conflicts with ever more serious consequences. In the end, they only drive the people opposing the government. At the same time, most house churches have become accustomed to surviving under extreme pressure. They are not afraid of pressure and hold that constant crackdowns only strengthen the unity of the church and foster growth. The crackdowns in the past resulted in revival and the growth of even larger house churches. It is unrealistic and useless to use extreme pressure to force millions of people to change their beliefs and to resolve religious problems. It will never be successful, no matter how much pressure is used.
This made me stop and ask myself, why don’t we see this type of faith and endurance in American churches? Could it be that the very freedoms that give us license to practice faith openly have actually, over time, resulted in a weaker faith because of the lack of persecution? Have we stopped turning to Jesus for shelter and the gospel for hope and instead turned only to the Bill of Rights for protection and the next election as our only hope?