“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; Adopted December 15, 1791.
Within the United States, we have the wonderful blessing of the First Amendment. As stated above, the First Amendment keeps the government from focusing specifically on one religion as the national religion, and it also allows those who practice any form of religion to do so freely, without the government hindering that practice.
It is wonderful that we live in a country where the government is so supportive of the various religious institutions that are within it’s borders.
At the same time, this is a terrible curse.
Because we have this First Amendment, Christians have become complacent. The boldness that once accompanied the Christians who faced severe political opposition is no longer. We preach the gospel, but with political correctness and fear of offense.
We no longer fight boldly for the gospel. And, as a result, there is next to no persecution for being a disciple of Christ. (Note: I am referring to being a disciple of Christ, not being a self-proclaimed Christian. More on that later.)
Sure, we face opposition from our family members and friends, and maybe some co-workers for our faith, but are we actually persecuted? For that matter, is persecution even something that should be hoped for in the Church?
Yes and no.
The reason for the no is obvious: persecution is terrible, no matter what form it takes. It can cause pain and suffering, injury to the physical, mental and emotional parts of a human being. There are times when persecution results in death.
However, persecution is something that, maybe not hoped for, can be extremely helpful. From the days of the early church, the more governments and tribes and families persecuted them for being a disciple of Christ, the stronger their faith became. If they had to flee an area where they were living, they would take the message to a new area, attempting to disciple more and more people into following Christ. What people thought would weaken and destroy faith in Jesus only ended up strengthening it and bringing more people to Jesus.
Persecution is necessary and it should be expected. I, for one, long for the day when we will encounter great issues not just from our communities, but also our governments, for our beliefs.