When compared to those of the first-century church, Christians living in the United States today have it pretty good. A poll taken in 2012 found that 70% of Americans consider themselves Christian. With such a large majority of the population identifying themselves as followers of Christ, it's all too easy to isolate ourselves from nonbelievers and critics of the faith. We can effectively create a lifestyle where the only people we talk to are Christians, the only songs we listen to on the radio are Christian songs, and the only TV we watch are Christian TV shows.When this life of perfect Christian isolation has been set up properly, what could possibly go wrong?
Christ called us to out into society to be the "Light of the World".
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 TLV)
Discovering the truth about our salvation was the best thing that happened to us, but it should create in us a desire to share it with others. As renowned atheist Penn Jillette so eloquently put it, "If you believe that there's a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward... how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"
Christ promised us many things, and persecution is one of them:
"Do you remember what I told you? 'A slave is not greater than the master.' Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you."(John 15:20 NLT)
Ever since the church began, Christians have been persecuted. In our day and age here in the States, it looks different than it did during the Roman times, but it's still prevalent. And, as Jesus said, it's going to happen. This world will reject us based on our faith alone. This is normal, and as Christians, we have to be prepared to handle it. "And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. (1 Pete 3:15,16 NLT)
Although 70% of Americans claimed to be Christians in 2012, that number was 90% in 1963. We need to break out of our comfortable Christian lifestyles and head out into the world, in the face of persecution, and shine the light of our faith so that all may see.
--Justin Moyer (Pastor-In-Training @ Soul Purpose Community Church)