I’ve never actually seen a moth burn up as a result of being drawn into a flame. But I’ve seen them buzzing around my back porch light enough to get the idea. It is a great illustration for how we are often drawn into the very things that will ultimately destroy us. That has been the experience of the church in America. We fight to obtain the very things that will ultimately weaken us and make us wholly ineffective.
I believe that the spread of Christianity in the early church was attributable primarily to two God-ordained circumstances: (1) persecution from outside the church, and (2) conflict from within, due to the differences among them. Take away the oppression of the Roman government and Christianity does not have a reason to spread beyond Jerusalem except by mere happenstance. Take away the vast cultural differences within the early church, and Christian doctrine never really gets tested and grown and purified, it never develops any of the Spiritual “immunities” to false teaching which it currently enjoys.
It is always funny to me, then, when we in the church spend so much time and energy trying to rid the world of both of these catalysts. The church in America is actually fighting for two things that will kill us: (1) political favor from the outside and (2) homogeneous culture on the inside. I spoke to the second item in my recent post here. I will only summarize that post by saying that, contrary to what many of us seem to believe in the church, diversity is actually our friend, i.e., our strength…not our enemy. But what about the first catalyst? What about persecution from outside the church? History tells the story best.
Historically, Christianity has always grown stronger in the …
Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
“Some claim that it was on June 17, 1963, that the end began. That was the day prayer was removed from public schools. Christians argued about this date as if everything was fine on Tuesday and then fell apart on Wednesday. I am certainly not saying that this was not a sad day for followers of Christ; but this assessment is not only naive, it is indicative of our disconnection to the real crisis. The crisis did not begin when prayer was removed from public schools but when we stopped praying.“Erwin McManus, An Unstoppable Force
Some years ago, the United State Supreme Court was considering a school prayer case arising out of my home state of Texas. It involved a prayer given over the intercom at a football game one Friday night. I happened to be consulting with a church which had become very politically active in the media “campaign” to keep our “rights” to pray over the intercom at football games. This was a church where a few hundred people would attend worship services on Sunday morning. I went to their regularly scheduled Wednesday night prayer meeting one week, expecting to get a taste of their fervor for prayer. I was surprised to find only a couple dozen people there…a crowd I was assured was pretty standard for their weekly prayer meeting.
What is wrong with that picture?
Here is the truth. Here in America, the church has demonstrated a great deal more passion about its rights to pray at football games and schools than its belief in the power of prayer in the first place. Let’s face it, if we the church really believed …