There are some things that I thought through over the last week that might prove useful as a follow up to my post “Tim Tebow and the Marginalization of Christianity” as Christians face the possibility of the marginalization of Christianity here in the U.S. Here are five points to consider:
Marginalization tests the Christian
One of the ways which marginalization will benefit Christians is it that it will test their faith. Paul stated to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). All trials test us to see if we are truly Christians. When Christians overcome those trials by trusting and obeying God it strengthens their faith. Unfortunately, Christians in the U.S. have not been tested as our fellow brother and sisters in the rest of the world like in Africa, Asia, and Russia. They have been marginalized, ostracized, and even faced death in many instances. We may be facing one or more of these trials in the near future.
Marginalization separates the wheat from the chaff
Marginalization will not only test Christians to see if they are in the faith, but it will also separate the wheat from the chaff. No more Sunday attending church only, standing on the sideline Christians. No more CE (Christmas and Easter attending only) Christians. No more seeker sensitive, emergent, liberal, whatever you call them pseudo-Christians. No more money grubbing charlatans from TBN. Marginalization and persecution will cause them to run and hide or even apostatize. Moreover, some, in an effort to preserve some remnant of their pseudo-Christianity, will align themselves with liberal mainline denominations or emergent congregations. These betrayers along with their secular liberal cohorts will join them in their journey into the spiraling abyss of cultural conformity.
Take for example, self-proclaimed “passionate Christian” and co-founder of the Christian dating service eharmony.com Neil Clark Warren who I wrote about in a recent post. In an interview with The Christian Post, Warren blames his recent legal woes with homosexual activists on both Focus on the Family and conservative Christians. Warren claims that they were too rigid in their views of marriage and Scripture. Warren disassociated his company from Focus on the Family when his legal troubles began despite the fact that Focus on the Family promoted eharmony.com. Part of the settlement between Warren and homosexual activists was to help them create an equivalent dating site for same sex couples in New Jersey, so much for Warren being a “passionate Christian”. Remember, Judas seemed like a “passionate Christian” too until the going got tough and he wasn’t able to fulfill his own selfish agenda.
When Christianity really costs something you will find out who the real players are.
Marginalization causes a deeper dependency upon God
When Christians can no longer depend on their job, their family and friends, or their government because they have all turned against them; where else can they turn to but God. This may be a strong possibility in the near future. In the Book Acts, we see Christians having a strong dependency on God as a result of persecution. If a professing Christian is a true Christian indeed, he will be forced into a deeper dependency upon God. If a professing Christian is not a true Christian, he will recant his faith and join the rest of society. This action would only prove that he was never a Christian in the first place.
Marginalization forces the church to pray more
Moreover, a deeper dependency toward God due to marginalization will cause Christians to pray more. When Peter was imprisoned in the Book of Acts, believers gathered together in a group and prayed for the Lord to help Peter. The Lord answered the prayers of these faithful believers by miraculously freeing Peter. When Peter went to the place where the believers were praying, a young woman answered the door to find Peter standing there. She was so incredulous to find Peter at the doorway that she thought she had seen a ghost.
History also shows us that Christians who have faced marginalization in the past have prayed more. A few examples come to mind such as the Reformers and the Puritans. Take some recent examples such as Russian, Chinese, and African Christians persecuted by their own governments. Many revivals and reformations have come out of marginalization and persecution because prayer by God’s people unleashes the power of the Holy Spirit in the proclamation of the Gospel. It would be no surprise that reformation and revival would happen as a direct result of marginalization and persecution.
Marginalization prepares the Christian
Lastly, marginalization will cause Christians to prepare for the inevitability of persecution. There are many signs of it coming now as previously mentioned in the last article. Christians should be like Joseph whom God warned about the coming famine in Egypt and prepared himself for the inevitability of that famine. First, Joseph warned people of the famine. Then he took some practical measures to prepare himself and his people for that famine.
Now when I say this I don’t mean that Christians should be taking arms, stock piling food and water, or start investing in an underground bunker like they are a part of some right wing militia group. When I mean preparation, I mean to prepare spiritually. Prepare by reading, studying, and memorizing your Bible. Prepare by cultivating and deepening your relationship with God through prayer. Prepare by becoming more bold and active in the proclamation of the Gospel. Prepare by participating in discipleship relationships. In other words, prepare to be used by God in the event that marginalization and persecution occurs.
In fact, you can also prepare practically by thinking through some things that might happen if and when marginalization and persecution does happen. For example, what would you do if you got fired from your job because of your Christian faith? How would you react? What would you say to your boss or co-workers? Have you taken any precautionary measures financially to protect your family?
How about being arrested by the police for sharing your faith? Are you still willing to share the Gospel if this were the case? There have been many recent instances where Christian brothers and sisters have been given citations, detained, or even arrested by the police for preaching the Gospel. I believe that number will only rise.
Pastor and elders what would you do if someone would sue your church because he believed that your ordinances were discriminatory because of his sexual orientation? What if a homosexual couple wanted to use your church facility for their marriage ceremony? We’ve seen similar examples of these types of situations over the last year. Are you willing to fight and not compromise your Biblical responsibility toward your Lord and congregation or are you willing to capitulate to the culture just to save your position and church? The same would hold true for any Christian institution whether it is a business, educational institution, or para-church ministry.
These are the types of questions that go through my head from time to time as I continue to see the demise of Evangelicalism in the U.S. Here is a short video from Paul Washer predicting the coming persecution:
Moreover, we should rejoice in the coming marginalization of Christianity because of all the aforementioned points in this article. It will cause a more pure form of Christianity because it will be tested under the refining fire of marginalization and persecution and weed out false professing Christians. We should also rejoice that God is still sovereign and control of all things. No matter what government we are under, we should be confident that God will always preserve His remnant church.
Finally, we should rejoice because church history has shown that whenever Christians have been marginalized and persecuted, reformation and revival have been right around the corner. It happened with the establishment of the church in the Book of Acts. It happened during the Protestant Reformation. It happened during the First and Second Great Awakenings in the U.S. and Great Britain. Better yet, maybe just maybe the Lord Jesus may come this time. Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
(Tony Zabala is currently the Evangelism Coordinator for the Santa Monica Church)