Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Impact of Persecution on the Kingdom of God

For those Christians who rationalize a passive response to the moral disintegration of America, and ultimate destruction of religious freedom, under the delusion that the church usually thrives and revives under pressure, please consider the following:

From "Impact of Persecution on the Kingdom of God" posted 4/7/07 at Lucian's Daughter.

From Jewish World Review...

By Aug 2004 [with increased Muslim persecution of Assyrian Christians], 40% of Iraq’s Christian population (1.4 million) had left for Syria -- “a milestone in the decline and possible disappearance of Iraqi Christianity”

Christians, due mainly to Islamist persecution and lower birth rates, are disappearing from the Middle East as a whole.

* Bethlehem and Nazareth, the most identifiably Christian towns on earth, enjoyed a Christian majority for nearly two millennia, but no more. In Jerusalem, the decline has been particularly steep: in 1922, Christians slightly outnumbered Muslims and today they make up less than 2 percent of the city's population.

* In Turkey, Christians numbered 2 million in 1920 but now only a few thousand remain.

* In Syria, they represented about one-third of the population early last century; now they account for less than 10 percent.

* In Lebanon, they made up 55 percent of the population in 1932 and now under 30 percent.

* In Egypt, for the first time ever Copts have been emigrating in significant numbers since the 1950s.

At present rates, the Middle East's 11 million Christians will in a decade or two have lost their cultural vitality and political significance.

It's easy to talk about persecution -- but do we have any appreciation for how hard it is to live faithfully despite persecution? (Read the article above and think about that.)

Historically, when the church comes under persecution, weak Christians fall away, stronger Christians go underground or scatter; the kingdom may expand abroad, but many times the church diminishes almost entirely in the affected land -- alternate philosophies emerge and within a generation or two, nothing remains of the church. If we want something better for America, we need to stand now, we need to speak with a loud and courageous voice while we still have the freedom to defend the hope we have in Christ.

One more observation: There is truth in the maxim, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." However, one must actually stand and bear witness to the truth in order to BE a martyr.