Monday, April 28, 2008

Acts: Persecution (12:1-5)

In the book of Acts, each new persecution brings growth and strength to the new church; it also intensifies and increases the persecution. In chapter 12 one of the twelve is martyred and Peter himself is imprisoned. This leads to one of the most exciting stories of the new church: Peter’s rescue by an angel. It is so cool when those praying Christians don’t believe the servant girl when she says their prayers have been answered! Oh them of little faith!
However, lest we become smug in hindsight, we must face up to one fact: if the American church were to face persecution such as that, it would cease to exist.
The American Evangelical Culture as it exists today could not withstand real persecution, because it is simply a provider of answers for daily life. Its survival depends on it continuing to provide a means for people to make more money, raise better kids and have more successful lives. It is made up of a collection of people who believe because it is convenient to do so.
In fact, it is hard to imagine true persecution ever happening against the American Evangelical Culture. It is hard to imagine because for that to occur, there must be a group committed enough to accept persecution rather than abandon the faith. Most in the evangelical subculture believe based on results. They are pragmatists. They believe because “it works.” If it ceased to produce results, then it would be considered false. Many American evangelicals would probably see persecution as proof that they were mistaken and would justify their compromise by shifting their belief.
It is time lead the church out of the cultural ghetto it has built for itself. We need to be incarnational, not monastic. We need a faith to confront and change the world, not to insulate and bless ourselves.

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