My study of theology started back in the eighties. I recall reading numerous materials that predicated the ‘end of times.’ They described how the church would come under attack by the government which would also force individuals to take the ‘mark of the beast.’ I have never claimed proficiency in the matter of interpreting Biblical prophecy. However, I have studied plenty of history, and one pattern I identified early on stands out in my mind today. When any government goes to grab more power from the people, it attacks the church.
Yet, here we are. In the year 2020, our American government is doing everything possible to tear down our churches in the name of ‘safety.’ Our cry, as Americans, changed from “Give me liberty or give me death” to “Give me safety from virus even if it cost me my liberty.” As part of this new, social contract, many states have focused closure orders and incredibly challenging orders on church organizations. As just a small example, I have included a clip here as John MacArthur reads what the state of California expects from churches there.
As he points out, following those guidelines would effectively kill their organization. And, indeed, many other similar church have already closed their doors permanently.
Now, followers of my blog know that I have never carried the banner of support for institutional churches. Modern churches fall well short of the ideals set in the New Testament. At the same time, most claim to have the ‘best model’ of church either implicitly or explicitly. I have many concerns about the model of church western society used for the last two millennium.
Yet, even I cannot ignore these blatant attacks by our government to shut them down. And, while governments such as China or North Korea make any such gatherings illegal, our government has taken a more sinister approach by enforcing closures and strict requirements over an obscene period of time in the name of ‘safety.’
Some would point out that the government applies such pressure to all organizations equally in its quest to ‘squish’ the virus, but that idea falls shorts when one reviews the facts. In the states with the tightest regulations for churches, organizations such as liquor stores, abortion clinics and home goods stores work with much easier requirements (if any). The governments serve court summons to any church that dares to defy their ‘health orders’ while allowing groups to organize and protest in large numbers in any manner they see fit.
To see my country blatantly grab and stubbornly hold onto the constitutionally protected rights of its citizens breaks my heart. This kind of action, performed in the name of ‘safety,’ is nothing new. Again, study history of other nations, and how they took freedoms from their people and other egregious actions (including murder and genocide.) Those leaders always had a great ‘reason’ for their actions to pacify the people of the time.
One of the books I read back in the 80’s foresaw this possibility, and reviewed a ‘back to the Bible’ secret as an answer to this challenge. When persecuted, Christians in the darker ages met in homes. In fact, the Christian churches in China and North Korea have seen unprecedented growth over the last few decades even as they quietly meet in each other’s houses. Governments find it much harder to hunt down followers when they do not have a huge building-shaped target with a cross at the top.
Sadly, most Christians will not consider such radical approaches. They have somehow bought into the lie that they must remain apart from their siblings in faith to ‘stay safe.’ (Compare this approach with the disciples’ in the Bible. Did they put safety over spiritual/church meetings and following Christ?) They ‘attend’ church once each week by watching a broadcast and move on with the rest of their life. And, in that regard, Satan wins a decisive victory.
While this may seem dark and depressing to most, I end this entry with a silver lining. While we bemoan the dark times where government represses churches, we should take note of another fact. When the church is persecuted, God acts. In our weakness, He is made strong. We have seen the most explosive growth and the biggest miracles when facing our darkest times. The blood of the martyrs fertilized the ground for generations of faithful followers to grow.
This is your time.