Over the Easter weekend a suicide bomber in Pakistan blew up more than 70 Christian women and children. There are also stories coming out of Yemen that a priest may have been crucified on Easter Sunday though nothing is confirmed as of yet on that story.
Regardless, the world is becoming a very unsafe place for Christians. And though there is no physical abuse here in the West there is little doubt that Christianity is under attack on a cultural level. Films, music, television, and magazine articles make Christians out to be reactionary stick-in-the-muds who live somewhere between the Stone Age and the nineteen fifties in their thinking and understanding.
It is a sad day when the State Department finds it difficult to admit that the bombing in Pakistan was anti-Christian and carried out by a Muslim terrorists organization, the Taliban, who publically take claim for the killings. Over and over we are told that Islam is the “religion of Peace” and we are bigots and uninformed to speak up about these continuous murders of Christians around the world at the hands of Islamists. We suddenly become the intolerant bad ones for defending the rights of fellow Christians to live in peace without the constant threat of murder, rape, and displacement hanging over their heads.
We all watched the pictures of Christians being beheaded by ISIS and what was the reaction of the Western nations? Nothing. According to Open Doors USA the killings of Christians in Nigeria is up 62%. Charism News reports, “With the phenomenal growth of China’s churches has come a crackdown of epic proportions. China Aid recently reported a 300 percent increase in religious persecution of Christians since 2013. Among the victims were 17,884 believers, including 1,592 church leaders, according to the 2014 China Aid annual report.”
India, with over 62 million Christians, is seeing a rise in persecution towards those Christians. “The country saw 355 incidents of violence, including 200 major incidents, during the last year,” Joseph Dias, convener of Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum, told World Watch Monitor. The forum’s report, released on January 18, concluded, “It is not safe to be a Christian in India.” If you spend any time reading the reports of Open Doors, The Voice of the Martyrs, World Watch and a host of other organizations that keep a watch on the persecution of Christians, it soon becomes evident that Christianity is under pressure in a great deal of the world. In countries like North Korea I would be sentenced to a long prison term for just writing this post and you for reading it.
Closer to home it is becoming more and more politically correct to bash Christians and never say anything that could be considered insensitive about the persecutors of Christianity. Though we make up the majority of people in North America, Christianity is steadily losing its influence and drive. We have become content to sit back, watch television evangelists from the comfort of our homes, drop a few dollars into the Salvation Army buckets (though I think those are becoming a thing of the past) at Christmas and live the rest of our time very much in the fashion of secularists.
It is little wonder that we Christians in the West are so little concerned over the demise of our brothers and sisters around the world. We are becoming Bible illiterates and as a result, most North American Christians are Christian in name only. How bad is it?
Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli tell us that fewer than half of all adults can name the four Gospels and that many Christians can not identify more than two or three of the disciples. 60% of Americans cannot name even five of the Ten Commandments and 82% of us think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible Verse. And how did born-again Christians make out on the verse? Only 81% thought it was a Bible verse.
And then we go from the ridiculous to the sublime with 12% of Americans believing that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. Over 50% of graduating high school seniors believed that Sodom and Gomorrah were a husband and wife team. And to add injury to insult a large number of people when questioned on who preached the Sermon on the Mount accredited it to Billy Graham. (no belittling of Billy intended)
We as Christians are in big trouble. We are becoming more and more Biblically illiterate and indifferent. Our culture is becoming much more secularized and totally losing its relationship with Christian symbols and traditions. Christians in the West are seen as fuddy-duddies who are out of step with modern permissive culture and in much of the rest of the world you can lose your life for being a believer in Christ.
Christianity.com points out, “Christians who lack biblical knowledge are the products of churches that marginalize biblical knowledge. Bible teaching now often accounts for only a diminishing fraction of the local congregation’s time and attention.” They go on to note that, “youth ministries are asked to fix problems, provide entertainment, and keep kids busy. How many local-church youth programs actually produce substantial Bible knowledge in young people?”
So, what can we do? First of all as parents we can begin to take responsibility for our children’s spiritual well being. We are quick to make sure they are signed up for Hockey, music lessons, gymnastics, martial arts courses, and dance but cannot find time to read the Bible with them or have family worship. The church cannot do on Sunday morning what we have neglected to do ourselves all week.
Studies done on home Bible study groups have found that a very small group of Christians ever take advantage of them. And when they did attend many groups “never get beyond superficial Bible study.” Look, we call ourselves Christians so we need to start living like Christians. Stop making excuses about not having time or not liking to come out at night, or don’t like someone in the group and grab your Bible and get involved in a Bible study group. Take what you learn back into the family setting and become a light to the family.
Life for Christians is only going to get harder. Our speaking out on our values is going to be seen by more and more government agencies as unacceptable speech. Schools are becoming anti-Christian in their agendas and Universities a wasteland for all but the most ardent Christian. Persecution is stepping up throughout the world and will arrive on our shores whether through terrorist’s bombings or Christians being targeted for assassination.
Many of the letters of the New Testament were written to strengthen Christians who were facing persecution at the hands of local governments and the might of the Roman Empire. It is time for us professing Christians to open our Bibles and find out what God has to say to us about our relationship to Him and the culture that we live in. It’s time to dig deep into the Word and stop making excuses for our indifference. Take a few minutes to read the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation – yes; they have a message for us.
We are entering into serious times to be a Christian and we better understand what is happening.
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…