A quick thought about the comparison and contrast of historic reality to our present situation.
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
(This is my discussion post from one of my graduate courses at UGST.)
History is a teacher from whom we may learn and grow in understanding. History also discloses to us both what has occurred in the past and what could or may happen in the future. It should come as no revelation that the first or second century Christians faced severe opposition and encountered intense challenges as they sought to advance the Kingdom of God. As far as I know, they did not construct buildings or possess real estate, but they still managed to find places to meet. Despite the disciples of Jesus Christ being scattered abroad and meeting in horrid environments, like the catacombs, they were still one powerful church.
These were real people who remained spiritually alive and ready to mobilize the gospel under the threat of facing persecution, torture, and death. They remained connected to and communicated the Word of God with each other as members of His body. Their joy, peace, and love for God was not contingent on external circumstances. They were faithful, triumphant, and victorious. That is powerful.
So, I envisioned myself as a first or second century disciple of Jesus Christ. My conclusion is all Christians will suffer some kind of trouble, affliction, or problem, including, perhaps as in 2020, a viral disease. If the first and second century Christians suffered intense persecution, trouble, suffering, affliction, and sickness, what would make me think that I would not go through some type of severe circumstance? This thought brings me to the commonality and comparison that I have found with these first and second century Christians. Like the early church, we are solidly founded upon the Word of God. We will continue maintaining our spiritual and doctrinal integrity while being flexible enough to be relevant in every difficult situation.
The contrast, in our current pandemic predicament, is that we are still able to freely praise, worship, and share the Word of God in our own house. We do not suffer intense persecution in our country. But a question came to mind: will our trials, suffering, and persecution not be as difficult, yet FEEL more difficult, because we are accustomed to freedom? Someone once stated to me that, “sometimes we do not value what we have until we are bereft of it. The early church continued stalwart in their faith despite being a persecuted class of citizens. And sometimes it takes a pandemic for individuals to reevaluate their lives, faith, and purpose on this earth.”
Presently, there are thousands upon thousands of people in other parts of the world who are truly persecuted in like manner as the early church. Perhaps the United States of America will get to that point, but perhaps it will not before the rapture. Either way we need to remain steadfast and willing to suffer or go through severe persecution. In the words of Jesus Christ, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in the heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt 5:11–12). The apostle Paul says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim 3:12). Also, Paul declares, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Phil 3:10).
I believe we have equal, or even a potentially greater, opportunity than that of the apostles to share the gospel. I believe we have the same capabilities, and more importantly, we have the same redeeming message, Spirit, and power within us. Additionally, we have far more superior technology tools and methods of communication than ever before. As such, we cannot excuse ourselves for doing less. Even in our present day, the Church lives on. Even in the face of persecution, the Church lives on. The gospel of Jesus Christ lives on.
Thanks for reading. Be blessed.