Suffering and American Christians

Posted by TJ Klapperich on 12/20/2006

In May I had the privilege to teach a class on the Old Testament Historical Books to a group of Chinese House Church leaders. I will not divulge the location of the training for the sake of the men’s safety. During my time with the men, I was once again struck with how blessed I have been. I have not had to run and hide from a government that persecutes Christians. I have not suffered poverty or loss of employment because of my stand for the gospel. I have been blessed, but I was also a bit envious of the faith of the men. They had a faith that was tried and tested faithful under trial.


I know that my experience is not unique to American Christians. We rarely face persecution. When we do, it is of a very mild nature; so mild that it calling it persecution is like calling a boy a man. There are similarities, but a boy is not a man, he is a potential man. What we face in , generally, is only potential persecution. Not only do we not face persecution, but we never even consider it. A few years ago I was given a book entitled The Christian in Complete Armour. The author is a man named William Gurnall, he was Puritan in 17th century . The Puritans, especially the separatist branch, knew persecution. Some lost their lives for the sake of the gospel. In his entry dated September 23, Gurnall writes:


     "Set poverty, prison, isolation, and fire before you on the one hand, and the precious truths of Christ on the other, along with God’s sweet promises for those who will hold fast the word of patience in such an hour or temptation. Suppose you had to choose right now which hand you would take; study this question seriously until your conscience can give a clear answer. Do this often so that the self-pity which flesh and blood indulge will not be satisfied, nor the encouragements from Scripture be treated with doubt. You must make sure a promise is true before you stake your life on it."


Reading this kind of statement is very foreign to us as Americans. However, it is very important. This kind of assesment not only prepares us for persecution, but steels us against compromising the truth of the Bible. Certainly if we will die for something, we would not be willing to set aside our commitment to it for the sake of unity. The truth that is worth dying for is truth that is worthing living for.