“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” ~ Jesus
Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians). Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
In America many feel they are facing growing intolerance as Christians and it has increased over the last two years. Sixty-three percent of respondents in the LifeWay Research survey said they agree or strongly agree that Christians are facing growing levels of persecution, up from 50 percent in 2013. The bulk of that surge comes from respondents who said they “strongly agree” with the statement, a number that increased from 28 percent to 38 percent. Persecution in America today is still not even close to what many Christians experience in other nations but I believe that in the not so distant future followers of Jesus right here in America will have their faith tried and tested in ways that they would never have imagined.
To be honest, we in American Christianity are not even slightly prepared for the persecution of faith that is to come. I have been sensing a strong urge by the Holy Spirit to help prepare the next generations with solid biblical teaching that will raise up mature followers of Jesus who are prepared to face what is coming. Christians that will be able to withstand extreme pressures from the outside and within and that are willing to even lay down their life.
Without sounding gloom and doom, American Christianity really needs to have their faith tried and tested. As you study history you will find for the most part Christianity has grown stronger in maturity and sincere faith during times of severe persecution compared to times of peace and prosperity. We should not desire to have severe persecution but the fact is it is unavoidable. The Christian landscape in America has steadily grown free and wild to the point that there are many who claim the title of Christian but have very little fruit.
Here is a few things that I believe will change as persecution for Christ increases in America.
As it becomes less and less popular to be a Christian it will become increasingly more difficult to draw people in with special effects, professional worship, and entertaining concepts. These cultural extremities take an excessive amount of money to purchase and maintain and as Christianity becomes more of an enemy these large organizations will not be able to function without sufficient financial backing.
There will be many who will abandon their faith in Jesus as things get more difficult. As Christians decrease numerically this means massive church campuses will not be needed and many church properties will be auctioned off. Those that remain faithful will find more discrete and smaller places to gather together such as outdoors, homes or small buildings.
As persecution grows more intense those that are still following Christ will not be satisfied coming together just once a week. As persecution increases some will come together every day to worship. These Christians will find strength in the body of Christ and will depend greatly on each other for encouragement, edification in Christ and help within the confounds of the fellowship. Some will sell their extra properties and possessions and give it to those in need. They will grow in faith as they consistently come together in worship with one mind and one heart.
Certain holidays normally associated with Christianity will no longer hold to any form of faith. The message of Easter will either disappear completely or end up being a holiday that celebrates children and the fertility of life with egg hunts, the rabbit and other fun activities. Christmas will focus solely on giving or simply center around the already popular Santa Claus.
5. As persecution increases all outward appearances of Christianity will slowly disappear.
Christian symbols, signs, programming, and all other forms of outward representation of Christianity will slowly become censored and unpopular. Christian schools and Universities will become weighed down with heavy restrictions until they either close down, compromise their position or simply do away with their affiliation with Christendom. Patriotism will be the new religion along with humanism and all the great achievements of man.
6. As persecution increases evangelism will prosper.
Though the number of professing Christians will decrease as persecution increases those that are left will be solid and authentic witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be many non-Christians who overtime will be amazed at the stamina of faith, authentic love, signs and wonders, and unity within the Christian family. like Nicodemus who went to Jesus under the cover of darkness many will come to faith within the secret church. Even those that are martyred will become great witnesses to the joy and peace found only in Christ Jesus.
These are just a few examples of what I believe one day this nation will experience in part or in whole. It is time that parents, teachers and leaders within the body of Christ start preparing the future of our children with great seriousness and purpose. Training them not in the excitement and joys of the world but preparing them for a world that will not accept their faith in Christ as past generations. Fulfilling the commission of Jesus to go and make disciples. Followers of Jesus who are not just Christians on Sunday or by classification but rather men and women who are mature and hold the proven character of Christ day in and day out. These are the ones that will endure until the end.