I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.
~ Philippians 1:9
Christians still suffer severe repression in some parts of the world. Our friends in Nigeria have a tough time, and in countries without a sizable Christian population (especially in Muslim countries), killings, beatings, and violence to property occur regularly. Our prayers go out to them.
Closer to home, we are seeing discrimination against Christians and Christianity that would have been unthinkable 50 or even 10 years ago. We are demonized, without doubt; that is, any mention of our faith and the press, and a large number of atheists, will immediately criticize us for being judgmental, filled with hate, given to violence, etc. The government's insensitivity to Catholic beliefs, in requiring them to provide birth control in their health insurance plans, indicates an intolerance to religious freedom.
But, to tell you the truth, I'm not so sure that the hate campaign being carried on by the media against Christians, and the budding governmental inroads into religious freedom, is necessarily a bad thing for Christianity. In the early church, being arrested and possibly murdered by the authorities (Jewish or Roman) was an ever-present threat. Yet the church of that day was filled with the Holy Spirit; they led their lives with their faith at the center. Widespread corruption of the faith (and the marginalization of committed believers) really got its start after 300 years, when Constantine made Christianity the state religion. Suddenly, there were huge secular benefits to being perceived as a “Christian” and the church became a tool for the ambitious.
So we might simply be having a shakeout. We must see it as part of God's plan. He may well intend that we lose the battle to make the United States, the UK, or wherever you live, a “Christian” country. We are, first and foremost, citizens of God's kingdom. As Paul put it:
“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ . . . .” (Philippians 3:20)
Lord, let me not set my mind on earthly things, but grow evermore in love and faith. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer