This week, eight people were “detained” (That’s politically correct for “imprisoned”.) in China for distributing materials for a “dangerous cult.” What cult were they associated with? The Mormons? Scientologists? Branch Davidians? No, they’re Christians.
This kind of thing happens all the time in China, almost weekly, yet we never hear about it on TV or the radio. Why is that? When an American paints graffiti while visiting another country, any threat of punishment becomes an international incident, but when Christians are imprisoned repeatedly and sometimes killed by the government, that’s not newsworthy–not even worth a page 37 paragraph.
Realistically, since it happens so often, it’s not considered newsworthy just because it happens so often. Christians persecuted in China? The sky is blue again today, too. So what’s new?
Yet by not reporting on and thus not hearing about this persecution, we become unaware of the persecution. Those lives and families torn apart for the sake of the Gospel become yet another number, if that. Were you aware that the official Chinese Christian Church is not allowed to teach that we are saved solely by Jesus? Anyone who teaches such “heresy” will stand before a human judge, even though they’re doing the will of the Judge of all.
Yet at the same time, Christianity continues to grow in China, because the church thrives under persecution. Meanwhile, in the United States, the bastion of “Freedom of Religion,” churches continue to decline in numbers. Some, because they’ve abandoned the Word of God and thus lost their relevance, are shrinking quickly. For others, the slope is more gradual. But every church has members on their roster who have no real connection with their church besides a place to host their funeral.
Complacency plagues the church and kills more souls than hoaxes like The Da Vinci Code or “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” ever could, because hoaxes not only pass away quickly along with the latest fads, but they also fall apart in the light of Scriptural Truth. Apathy, on the other hand, is a slow killer, like a little bit of arsenic each day.
All too often, we need persecution to wake us up to the reality that the promises of the world can’t hold a candle to the promises of God. The world can give us sleep and fun, but Jesus has given us peace of mind, answers to life’s questions, and eternal life.
Being a Christian and living in the Gospel will not always make you popular. You may well be ridiculed and experience some small level of persecution, but…
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven! The prophets who lived before you were persecuted in these ways. (Matthew 5:11-12, GWV)