One Sunday after worship, the preacher noticed a little boy named Alex staring up at a large plaque hanging in the foyer. This plaque had names listed all over it and American flags on each side. The six-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the preacher walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, “Good morning, Alex.” “Good morning,” replied the young boy, still focused on the plaque. “What is this?” Alex asked. “Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.” Soberly and silently they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Finally breaking the silence, little Alex’s voice was trembling and barely audible when he asked, “Which one, the morning or evening service?”
Aren’t we glad we don’t literally have a plaque to remember those who died “in the service?” There are many times we thank God for being able to worship Him without any difficulty or fear of persecution. Many countries do not enjoy this same freedom. In fact, there are some fleeing and hiding because Christianity is illegal.
Sadly, we are inching closer to a time when some biblical parts of Christianity may become punishable offenses. Only the Lord knows how much harder life might become for Christians in America and around the world. While we may hit this speed bump in the future, life is pretty much free and easy right now. But as we know, life has not always been so easy. For first century Christians, they were faced with extreme persecution. Notice some contrasts:
- In Bible times, people would pray for deliverance from affliction; today we thank God for the lack of affliction.
- In Bible times, people were imprisoned because of their beliefs (Acts 16:22f); today we are able to worship without any government violation at all.
- In Bible times, people were driven out of and fled cities to escape persecution (Acts 13:50); today we can go almost anywhere we want and talk to just about anyone about God.
- In Bible times, there was a fear for family members and friends being hurt (Acts 8:3); today we can be relatively at ease with our family’s safety.
- In Bible times, people were beaten and killed for their beliefs (Acts 7:54f); today the worst punishment received is usually just some criticism.
We truly are a blessed nation. As long as we have the religious freedom we do, God deserves the glory. However, even if Christianity becomes illegal, God still deserves the glory. Perhaps Jesus would be echoing the same words today that He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Now is an “easy” time to talk with our friends, family, and strangers about the gospel. It may not be so easy in the future. Let’s praise God for our religious freedom and work hard in this spiritual harvest.