For those who don’t know us, we moved into a more disadvantaged neighborhood at the end of last year to plant a church. Over the years we’d become more convinced that evangelicals were basically a white, middle class church and we wanted to be a part of the solution to that problem.
We’re starting to see lots of results of choosing to live and set up a church gathering in this kind of neighborhood. Most of it is very good with new relationships and opportunities to serve in a community that has many needs. Some other time I’ll share some of that but this time I want to talk about one of the “downside” moments, i.e. when we saw our church sign had been slashed.
I don’t know whether getting your church property vandalized counts as being persecuted for Christ’s sake or not. I suppose it might if the reason it happened was because we were Christians rather than because it was a convenient target for someone to get a random thrill. A few years ago I would have been really upset and surprised that someone would do such a thing.
At this point of my life, I’m actually surprised it doesn’t happen more often. As we’re working through the Gospel of Luke on Sundays and we see Jesus opposed at every turn by enemies who hated that He did good things and told the truth, I wonder why more of this kind of thing doesn’t happen to churches in the west. In fact, it does happen all the time to churches in other places where Christians take a stand against spiritual forces of darkness.
That’s not to say that there isn’t merit in living for Christ. Believers ought to cling to passages such as Gal 5:22-23 that says there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit or Titus 2:8 that indicated unbelievers who slander us are put to shame when people contrast their accusations with our actual lives. I’m just saying that Jesus bore more fruit of the Spirit and lived a more impeccable life than I ever will and they killed Him for it.
I think the best thing about getting a sign cut up is that it prepares me for worse things that probably will happen while we are here and forces me to run to my Father who doesn’t let anything come to me without his consent. I fully expect that as we gain ground in enemy territory that we will take more enemy fire and it grieves me that I’ve spent 25 years of life as a believer helping brothers and sisters heal more often from friendly fire than combat with the enemy.