Is it perverse that I love it when “talk back” time includes a question or comment from someone who doesn’t know Circle of Hope “the party line?”
I do love it.
Last Sunday at Marlton Pike, someone was trying to join me on my evangelism bandwagon after my speech by exhorting us to speak out more boldy. She said it was more important than ever, now that Christians in the United States are being “persecuted.” I told her I thought it would be hard to be persecuted when over 70% of the population self-identifies as Christians and over 60% say they are members of a church!
It is true, even anecdotal evidence tells us, that the percentage of Christians in the population is declining. It is also true that people who feel oppressed by the Christian majority are more vocal and visible than ever. But those changes are hardly evidence of persecution. I noted that in India, on the other hand, where only 2.3 % of the people follow Jesus, Christians face a lot of persecution.
The governments of Trump in the U.S. and Modi in India foment fears of violence and persecution. Trump is a beneficiary of a new channel that broadcasts all his rallies commercial free (you can find OANN on Direct TV 347) [example]. Ballywood supporters of Modi have put out a movie that depicts his life as if he were a Marvel hero [trailer]. The rulers of the world fill it with anxiety and we are all experiencing the change. There is less trust, more legalism, more fear, more hopelessness.
We talk back
The “talk back” time we usually have after a speech on Sundays is one of the many places we have constructed in our alternative community where we refuse to bow to the spirit of the age, what Paul calls, the “rulers, …the authorities…the powers of this dark world and…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
Our “church planting summit” last week was another place we dared to be known. Everyone was invited to speak up about our future. As a result, we got in the face of the spiritual forces of evil, we dared them to try to steal our joy and spoil our love right out in public. Once again, they did not succeed. Our cells defeat them again and again as those microchurches foment transformation and love each week.
I think it is sad when troubled people become even more troubled by the dark powers, so much so that they feel persecuted by some imagined foe. But I am happy when they feel they can tell us all about it.
Since you just cared to experience me being known, I hope you feel moved to help us be an alternative, a place where light is tended and healing is offered —a place where a person can speak up and work out their thoughts, where you can be broken and hope someone will care, where everyone can learn love and even dare to share it right out in public, to talk back.