"(Jesus said) And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18).
I have been thinking about the future of the American church. Jesus promised that his church would survive, but he did not promise the absence of difficult times. In fact, he warned that we would face persecution and hardship.
Will the American church face difficult times in the near future? Possibly. Will we endure? I'm not sure. Christ's church as a whole will not be overcome by the gates of Hades, but could the American church? Could I?
I'm concerned because we have a tendency to be embarrassed and shamed into compromise. I don't want to be associated with those who celebrate the deaths of homosexuals, so I'm tempted to remain silent about the sin of homosexuality. I don't want to be lumped in with hateful Bible-thumpers, so I am tempted to tone down my belief in the accuracy and authority of the inspired Scriptures. I want to fit in with Christians who seem articulate and intelligent, so I am tempted to try to explain away the first few chapters of Genesis.
I'm concerned because American churches seem to be obsessed with their image. They seem to jump from fad to fad in order to appear appealing to people who couldn't care less about them or their message. Some churches have surveyed their communities in order to find out what people would want in a church; then, they have accommodated their communities by providing style without substance.
If genuine persecution comes to the American church, will I have a faith strong enough to endure? How many American churches will compromise their principles in order to remain acceptable to a community that rejects Christ? How many would be willing to give up their tax-exempt status? How many doctors and nurses would be willing to stop practicing medicine if forced to participate in abortions? How many government employees would be willing to risk their jobs to say that sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is immoral? How many Christians would be willing to lie in order to keep their jobs or their homes?
I want to believe that I have the faith to face persecution. I want to believe that American churches have the faith to face persecution. But the question mark remains in my mind. Do we have a faith that will endure? If so, we have a bright future despite temporary hard times.
"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).