Some time ago I listened to a sermon where the minster was comparing our spiritual state with those of other countries. He mentioned in the countries where Christianity was illegal, the believers there seem to exhibit a zeal for the faith that we don’t seem to have. The point of the sermon was, since in our country we have the freedom to worship, we should have more zeal than those who live in places where Christianity is illegal.
Most of us have heard or read about believers in countries where they are facing persecution. We may have thought, it must be much more difficult to be a dedicated Christian in those countries than ours. I have been giving some thought to this question and came away with a different conclusion.
If someone were to ask you, is it more difficult to be a dedicated Christian in a country where Christianity is illegal or in our country? What would be your answer?
This is an interesting question to think about. Some of us might think, without a doubt in places where Christianity is illegal, isn’t this obvious? Maybe. The key word in our question is dedicated.
There is no doubt that our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted have experienced things that we cannot imagine, since we have not gone through the same situations. But spiritually speaking we may be in a dangerous place without even knowing it.
In an affluent country like ours, the danger is one of forgetting God and becoming lukewarm. In the book of Deuteronomy, God repeated a warning to the nation of Israel as they were getting ready to enter the land of Canaan. The warning was “take care lest you forget the Lord your God”.
But how could they forget God? By becoming affluent and having an easy life.
The land of Canaan was a very fruitful land at the time of Moses. In Deuteronomy chapter 8:7-10, we get a description of the land of Canaan. “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, v.8 a land of wheat and barley …v.9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you lack nothing…v.10 And you shall eat and be full…v.11 take care lest you forget the Lord your God…
Here the Lord gives them the warning,” when you shall eat and be full “take care lest you forget the Lord your God. On the same chapter, v.13, the Lord goes on to say “and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, v.14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God,”
The human tendency is to move away from God, especially when we are at ease. When all of our needs are being met and we are prosperous it’s easy to lose sight of our need for God. When we become affluent, we develop a false sense of security and become distracted by the things of this world. It’s not that we have turned our back on God, He simply becomes one of our interests among other things.
Spiritually speaking, this is one of the most dangerous places to be. When we become dull toward God and the things of God, we gradually feel unsatisfied with life even though we have everything. There seems to be something missing, but we can’t put our finger on it. These are the result of becoming lukewarm. At one time we felt spiritually alive, but now we are just fulfilling a duty.
The person who lives in a country were Christians are being persecuted has a hard time understanding this. They may think that if they were here they would go witnessing and try to win souls and other Christian endeavors. Human nature is the same here as well as other places. The difference is the environment.
In places were Christians are being persecuted, they cultivate a different attitude. As a result of persecution their faith becomes something very valuable to them. Their differences becomes minimal, they become close to one another because of the need. Their need for God becomes apparent as the result of the outside world, so they begin to seek God earnestly and see the hand of God in their lives. They begin to feel alive even though they may be in a hostile place.
When we consider some of these points I wonder where is the more difficult place to be a dedicated Christian? Maybe we should take the warning of Deuteronomy to heart. Have we become lukewarm? If we have, we need to rediscover our first love again.
May the Lord be with you all