“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
American Christians live comfortable lives.
True, we still suffer, struggle, and battle with this world. We’re still brought down by sin. We’re still endlessly tempted.
But consider how easily we live compared to Christians around the globe.
Asian believers choose to either meet underground or be imprisoned.
Arab believers face death and torture at the hands of their Muslim authorities and armies.
African believers distinguish between the mystic, pagan rituals of their culture and the true gospel of Christ.
Russian believers better not be more enthusiastic for Christ than for their Motherland.
American believers… have the choice of at least five churches to attend on a Sunday morning within a ten mile radius. American believers can drive or walk to a church service in the open, wearing our Sunday clothes, or carrying our Bibles. We can sing and play hymns and praise songs loud enough to be heard on the street outside, or in the houses next door. We can not only post sermons online for all to hear, but we can listen to as many sermons as we want in a day, in the comfort of our home, on the wi-fi in the airport, through our earbuds in a library. We can even whip out our Bibles in public, at a coffee shop with a friend or on a park bench alone.
American believers, compared to the rest of the body of Christ, live in the lap of spiritual luxury.
Perhaps believers from other cultures scorn us, calling us soft and passive, saying we don’t experience rocky bottoms in our Christian walk.
And they’d be wrong.
But, they’d also be right.
It’s easy for American believers to settle into our comfort. No one is holding our throats to a blade, ready to behead us if we don’t convert. No one is pointing a gun in our face simply because we’re different and in their way. No one is tossing us head over heels into dank prison cells because our faith threatens the structure of the government.
So we slow our steps in our Christian race. We turn down the heat of God’s fire in our souls. We switch on cruise control. We don’t dare be zealous for the Lord, for His word, for His grace, because, heavens, people will think we’re weirdos.
Of all the believers in all the world, Americans are the believers worried about being social outcasts, worried about losing friends, worried about what people might say behind their backs. We who live in a culture of churches on every block, we’re the ones terrified of being too radical, too enthusiastic for Christ.
We don’t want our unbelieving friends to stop talking to us, to think we’re uncool or unfunny. We tell ourselves it’s the way to minister to people anymore. And America’s #1 rule for ministering to unbelievers: Don’t, please, don’t shove it in their face.
So we successfully excuse ourselves from being zealots for Jesus, because we’re too busy painting our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with what the world will deem an acceptable amount of Christian behavior. Meanwhile, believers in more antagonistic cultures with more anti-Christian governments are living more radically than us, for a much higher cost than the labels “social outcast”, “weirdo”, and “Bible-thumper”.
Pray for the the believers in our country, and pray for me. Pray that we will be radical, enthusiastic, and zealous for the cause of Christ. We all are ministers of the gospel; it’s high time we act like it.
“Do we do any work for God? Do we try, however feebly, to set forward his cause on earth, to check that which is evil, to promote that which is good? If we do, let us never be ashamed of doing it with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. Whatsoever our hand finds to do for the souls of others, let us do it with all our might (Eccles. 9:10). The world may mock and sneer and call us enthusiasts. The world can admire zeal in any service but that of God and can praise enthusiasm on any subject but that of religion. Let us work on unmoved. Whatever men may say and think, we are walking in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ.”