No, I’m not a cynic. But, from history, one of the preemptive issues to fuel spiritual renewal in Christians and their churches is…persecution!
One example from history. Jesus was born under the persecution of the Roman occupation of Israel. How would you like it if:
- Your land was promised—a gift from God Himself. Now occupied by a foreign, non-Jewish government?
- The government (Rome) had soldiers occupying the capital, and many cities: fearsome soldiers, mean soldiers, soldiers that practiced crucifixion—the most hideous way to kill people?
- The government of Rome taxed you—took your money and sent it to an emperor far away who squandered it on offensive parties, building monuments, conquering other innocent people, paying mercenary soldiers?
Another example from history. The church was birthed under persecution:
- The “religious” leaders continually challenged Jesus. His message demanded too much change. They were uncomfortable with change.
- The crowds yelled “Crucify Him”.
- Peter lied to save his life.
- Pilate put guards at the tomb to satisfy the religious leaders.
- Stephen was stoned to death.
- Paul fled for his life in many cities.
- Many of the apostles were frequently jailed.
Fast forward to today:
- Gunshots ring out in churches. Innocent people die…even children…even unborn children.
- Several universities have sent out rules forbidding Christian students to use Christmas phrases, signs, symbols on campus. They fear offending others.
- Hollywood’s general film production promotes only a few Christian themed films. The majority focus on behavior offensive to Christian believers.
- Most television networks communicate “Happy Holidays.”
- The concept of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a no-brainer for thousands of years, is criticized by many, including some Christians.
It sounds very strange. But I thank God for the persecution. Historically, persecution is the last step in the much-needed wake-up call for Christian believers—an awakening!
Persecution precedes the much-needed renewal of the local church.
- Renewal, most often, is followed by revival.