As we approach the 4th of July, I was thinking about freedom. Freedom is a great blessing, one that many people do not have. But we can offer freedom?
Growth Despite Persecution:
I recently went on a trip to China. While the Chinese government has loosened its grip on its people somewhat in the past few decades, it is still far from a free country. This is especially true in area of religion. The majority of the Chinese people are Buddhist, but the Christian church is present in China. There are state sanctioned churches throughout China with a total of about 15-20 million members. These churches, however, tend to be somewhat watered down and outright evangelism isn’t seen (You won’t find any traditional church marketing there). Because the official state churches tend to be somewhat watered down, there is a big movement in underground house churches. Since these house churches are underground, the membership figures are hard to pin down, but there are estimates ranging from 60-130 million members. Despite the risk of persecution, imprisonment and even death, the Christian church is growing quickly in China. Less than 60 years ago there were only a few million Christians (somewhere between 700,000 and 3 million). God is great indeed. Throughout the history of the church God has worked mightily in persecuted areas. The persecution is meant to diminish or destroy the Christian Church, but thanks to God, persecution of the church often leads to growth. China is no different.
Americans Who Are Not Free:
So, what about us in the “free” world? Despite the prominence of Christianity in America, there are still millions of people who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. In the U.S. we enjoy the freedom of religion, but as Christians we enjoy a freedom far greater. Our Freedom in Christ is the freedom the soul longs for and the hearts of man seek, freedom from sin and condemnation. We live in a free nation with millions of people enslaved to sin. In China, they may not live in a free nation, but millions of people have found true freedom. We have the key to that freedom and need to do everything we can to reach those without Christ.
Will You Take the Risk?
Are we doing everything we can? In most cases the biggest risks we in the U.S. face is spending a little of the vast wealth Western churches possess or the possibility of being ridiculed. While in China I visited a Buddhist temple. At the temple I saw hundreds of people bowing before idols praying to false Gods and it broke my heart. But is that any different from the idols Americans worship? We don’t often see temples with large man-made religious idols, but we see people all around us with their false idols of money, fame, the earth, human achievement, and others. While the risks in the U.S. and other Western countries are less, the stakes are every bit as great. People, all people, need Christ.
As we approach this day where we Americans celebrate our national freedom, are we willing to sacrifice and take risks for Christ or will we let freedom and wealth lull us into being a lazy, impassionate church? Let us thank the Lord for our freedom, both national freedom and spiritual freedom, but let us also be passionate for Christ and committed to reaching everyone with the freeing Gospel of Jesus Christ in any and every means possible, both online and offline.
How are you speading the Word of Jesus? Share your ideas of sharing the freedom we find in christ with others, stories of how God has worked in your life in the face of difficulty or persecution, or share any comments you have about the article.