So much of America’s news is devoted to who holds or will gain political power. Ideas and arguments from political candidates cause tremors in the ground beneath our already-shaky feet. Case in point: Beto O’Rourke’s recent declaration that he would negate tax exemption for nonprofits such as churches if they don’t hold views consistent with his party’s view on same-sex marriage.
Now with midterm elections looming, where do Christians look for their power?
In its earliest days, Christianity was a small sect on the fringe of society. The charge from Jesus to His followers was to go out in POWER — not political, not societal, not religious power or human might, but in the power of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel.
The Church is growing around the world, but from where most Americans sit, you’re likely not seeing it. It was the apparent and drastic contradiction of the Church flourishing like never before in history in the Majority World — Asia, Africa, South America — and flailing in the West, that made me take a hard look at these power differentials.
God is visibly active in the Majority World where Christians possess little to no political, societal or religious power. Not surprisingly, Majority World countries are also hot spots for Christian persecution.
Stories of persecution abound. From behind our tidy desks and MacBook Pros here in America, we hear reports of pastors having guns held to their heads in India; Christian children in Iran being denied school certificates that would allow them to advance in their studies; churches being burned or disbanded, and Christians being imprisoned for their faith. And yet, in Asia, in the Middle East, and elsewhere, the church is flourishing.
I wonder what instills fear in American Christians more: the loss of power in the political polls? the marketplace? losing freedom of expression? Or the fact that the most respected religious-research polls reveal a drastic decline in the number of U.S. congregations and congregational size?
Do we care more about the power we’ve known in the past several decades — the kind we’ve become accustomed to — than the power originally entrusted and gifted to the Church by Christ Himself?
The power we’ve grown to truly appreciate and depend on here in America is indistinguishably enmeshed with the American dream. We know the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church, but let’s be honest: I prefer the kind of power that keeps me safe and comfy. Risking our secure, tidy existence is apparently as deep an affront to Christianity (if not deeper) as the risk of powerlessness to actually transform lives.
Does it make you wonder why the Church in America is in such decline, in spite of all the freedoms, societal influence and political sway that we have? Christianity in America has climbed into bed with power. And we like it, regardless of the cost.
Our brothers and sisters in the Majority World, much like those in the flourishing early Church, have no political power. They aren’t rich; they aren’t controlling the academy or occupying critical government seats. Yet the Church international is on an unprecedented trajectory of growth.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Nancy Hicks