On my way home today, a thought popped in my head: Living as a Christian in a place where violent persecution of your belief is rampant (such as the Middle East, and China) versus living as a Christian where there is little to no violent persecution (such as the US, and UK), is more the same than I had originally understood.
The thing is, Christianity thrives under persecution. There are more Christians in China than there are in the US. And China is diabolically opposed to Christianity whereas the US — at this point — just seems to tolerate it. But as far as keeping the faith is concerned, I would postulate that it is more difficult in the US than it is in persecution-heavy regions.
Well, that just doesn’t make any sense. How do you figure? There is only one factor that brings me to this conclusion: objective need. Think about it. In China, suffering of all kinds exist for a Christian. The need for food, shelter, and protection from persecution (be it verbal, legal, or physical) is extremely high. Because of this, the need for a Savior is really high.
Contrary to this, in the US, the majority of our populace has very little objective need. I’m talking about the same things that they actually need in China or third-world countries: food, water, shelter, health, and protection. The interesting part is that because there is a lack of need, keeping the Faith is actually more difficult.
Are you following me? Given, it is still hard to stay faithful while having to deal with the kind of persecution that a lot of Christians have to endure. But still, there is that need factor that changes the dynamic.
I personally struggle with my faith every day. And this thought gave me the answer as to why. The why being that I don’t really have any objective needs. I own my house, am happily married, have a secure job, have all the toys a grown man could want, and I have a loving and supportive family. The only need I have that could be considered even remotely legitimate is sleep. (Having a two-year-old will do that to you.) I’m not gloating here, I’m trying to prove my point.
Now, one could argue that if all of these things and people were suddenly taken away from me, I’d be in a dramatic faith crisis. Shaking my fist toward the heavens and cursing God for what He had allowed to happen. And they’d probably be right to some degree or another. But, because even the smallest amount of faithfulness remains in me, or simply that I believe He exists, the Lord would bring me right back around after I had learned what I needed to learn. And I would learn a lot about not only myself, but my faith — my identity, and what it means. My faith would be even stronger than before. I believe that.
(And to those of you thinking, Would a loving God really let something like that happen? Let me just say that you might need to redefine your understanding of what love is. I could quote First Corinthians 13 to you, but you’ve already heard that. But with that in mind, let me add some clarity: love is loving someone enough to allow them to endure a hardship in order that they learn a lesson that you could never teach them. Love is also being willing and ready to discipline and correct someone when they have done wrong. Simply put, love is seeking the absolute best for the beloved. Love is not easy. Love takes a lot of work. Sex is not love. You can show love through sex, but sex itself is not love. Love is not the warm fuzzies. That’s called attraction and/or admiration.)
Ultimately, and what many of us have lost sight of (including myself), is that fact that we all have a very desperate, very immediate need. And that is born through the very existence of sin and evil. Without an answer to this problem, we will all know what absolute depravity is like. Our tolerance for sin is undeniably, and incomprehensibly high. And until we realize the seriousness of our sin, — my sin, — we will never know what actual need is.