The Church in China
While the Bible clearly states and Christian history clearly shows that persecution purifies and purges the church, we can also clearly see a perfect example of it in the world today. It is the church in China, which is arguably the largest church in the world. The Chinese church serves as proof positive that the church being forced underground by persecution is not necessarily a bad thing.
When the Chinese communist government lifted some restrictions on the church a few years ago, allowing it to stick its head up from underground, the relieved restrictions proved short-lived. Since the church surprisingly emerged as a formidable threat to the communist regime, the regime quickly cracked back down on the church. Much to the consternation of its communist overlords, the church had been neither debilitated nor diminished under persecution. Instead, it had grown phenomenally underground. This phenomenal growth is attributable, in no small part, to the fact that the church in Red China was forced to return to the New Testament blueprint for the church when it was forced underground by the Chinese Communist Revolution.
I believe impending and inevitable persecution will soon force the church in America underground, as it has the church in China. Consequently, we, like our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ, will be compelled to return to the New Testament blueprint for the church. Instead of continuing to go to church and competing with one another to build the biggest church buildings, we’ll soon be forced to be the church and cooperate with one another to build the kingdom of God. Instead of waiting for the world to come to church to make a decision for Christ, we’ll soon be forced to go into the world to make disciples of Christ, which is what Christ commissioned us to do (Matthew 28:18-20).
We would do well to remember in these perilous times of the last days that it was persecution that caused the first century church to leave Jerusalem and take the Gospel elsewhere, in fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission (Acts 8:1). Likewise, it will be end-time persecution that will force the contemporary church in America to not only fulfill Christ’s Great Commission, but also to return to the New Testament pattern for the church and the Master’s plan for evangelism.