Thirty years ago no one would have guessed that Christian bakeries and photographers would be fined and legally harassed for their convictions. Certainly, no one even imagined that a county clerk would be jailed for refusal to sign gay-marriage licenses.
Welcome to post-Christian America. An America that is becoming more anti-Christian each election cycle.
“I’d love to see this woman nailed to a cross.”
Thus spoke a “let-me-love-whom-I-want” troll over at the “Stand With Kim Davis County Clerk” facebook page—a hateful attitude that predicts future troubles for the Christians of America.
But what are the American churches to do about this rising legal and cultural hatred?
Preparation for persecution is the calling of all Christians. Christ warned us (John 16:33), and the entire book of Peter is an extended treatment about living through persecution.
Preparation takes many forms, but the most common preparations involve the most basics of the Christian life: repentance, faith and the due use of the means of Grace—all in the context of the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is important in a Christian culture that is quick to create rallies and conferences to motivate each other unto faithful voting and social activism. These are not bad things. But they can be distractions to the deeper problems in Christian churches: a loss of repentance and faith and ignoring the due use of the means of Grace.
According to various statistics and pastoral testimonies over the years, the American church and family are in a terrible state. Divorce rates are too high. Church attendance is too low. Worldliness is widespread. And many youth are leaving the faith.
Families are confused. They seek out exciting speakers or the latest 10 step-programs, hoping God will somehow revive them outside of the ordinary means of grace.
Looking at more statistics, the 2007 Barna numbers paint an uglier picture:
65% of Americans aged 18-41 have made a “personal commitment to Jesus”.
29% of this group are “absolutely committed to the Christian faith.”
3% of this group have a nominal biblical worldview that does not even include a clear description of the Gospel.
A 2008 Pew Research study found that 57% of self-described Evangelicals deny that Christ is the only way to heaven. Of homeschoolers, one Barna study suggests that about “half believe salvation can be earned through good works.”
Well has Hosea declared: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (4:6).
Many Christian families across this land are in dire need of preparation. Too many are ignorant of the basics of God’s law, the means of grace and especially the Gospel.
How can the American church survive the coming troubles?
Families need to find and support strong and faithful churches that will equip them for persecution through the means of grace by the power of the Gospel.
Churches must help these Christians move forward unto greater godliness. Pastors must help retrain families into the life of the Church. And they must preach and teach the Good News.
So how can Christians survive the coming troubles? There are many ways, but the most fundamental is the call of repentance from dead works and faith in the living Christ. Only a firm faith in an unshakeable Gospel can weather the coming storm of tribulation.