I closed last week talking about how Gallio the Roman Senator and Judge, had refused to make being a Christian a federal offense, but the laws were soon to change.
Within a few years the Caesar's changed the law, making it required federal law to worship the Caesar and proclaim loyalty to Rome. Christians died by the thousands over the next 2 1/2 centuries because they refused to worship Caesar and proclaim their loyalty to the Empire. They were executed as traitors.
Worship of the State or the leader
Historically, once the process of judging one's loyalty as a citizen by a person's religion starts in a nation and culture, it progresses over a relatively short time. Daniel was initially treated well, fed the best food, the best education. But over a short time the enemies in society turned his faith in God into being unpatriotic to the King. Daniel's open worship of the Lord was twisted as a statement of disloyalty to the king and laws of the land.
In New Testament times, what started in Jerusalem as a dispute among Jews about a sect who believed Jesus is the Messiah, within a few decades turned into the accusation Christians were unpatriotic towards Rome. Their values were different, their allegiance was to Jesus rather than the government; they were counter culture.
In Nazi Germany laws were made in 1920 against Jews, followed by others in 1933 and 1935. Dachau, the first Nazi death camp, opened in 1933 with rapid expansion within 10 years to over 1,000 camps through 1944. Besides Jews and Christians, political conservatives were accused of being unpatriotic to Hitler. Look at China today sending Christian Uyghurs and ethnic Han Chinese to 'reeducation' camps, which are well publicized yet nations still do business with China.
What to watch for is this:
Faith in Jesus will be looked upon as weird, unpatriotic, and worse; the reason a nation has trouble. First leaders, and then society and common culture will change because they will want to quiet or eliminate in some way, the influence of those with faith. As with Daniel, Jesus, 1st century Christians, Jews and Christians and conservatives in Nazi Germany; we will be blamed for the ills of society. We will be viewed as prevention a nation from progressing.
What starts small, even on a local level, becomes federal within a few years. Fear that 'religious' people will force their values on a nation. Hatred for the principles that build nations and families becomes the norm. The State seeks to control everything. Media becomes a tool of the government. Character assassination and lawsuits directed towards selected situations, individuals, leaders, and anyone who differs with the State policy happens.
Neighbors spy on neighbors, laws are enacted to facilitate such things. Daniel was called a traitor after being spied on by coworkers. Jesus was betrayed by a disciple, and Peter, Paul and thousands of Christians in Rome were labeled enemies of Rome. The State tries to control everyone, and the media and culture help, seeking conformity and punishing those who are different.
No matter the nation, the mob mentality wants everyone to conform and those who don't are labeled, separated, hated. In The Revelation, if you want to buy or sell, you must first state your allegiance to the system/man and then you receive a mark that allows you to buy and sell. Conformity. Uniformity. Allegiance.
We see these things developing around the world today in whole nations all at the same time, and some Christians just as they did in Paul's time, will conform to the values of the ruling elite. But others will not. Thus we will see some churches going the way of the world in the name of being relevant, and some Christians who refuse to conform. We're not only different, we refuse to be the same.
What Jesus is doing
So that is the direction the world is going, but what is Jesus doing? He is moving in the opposite direction. He started in the home with Adam & Eve and has never left. His values have never changed: I was hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger, sick, in prison, and you fed, watered, clothed, befriended and visited me. He is meek, lowly, approachable, come and be taught by Him. Jesus is about the people in the pews, not about the laser light show at the 'worship' or the coffee shop in the foyer. His idea of being relevant means taking care of people where they live.
He is all about everyday things like one's basic provision, connectedness, relationships, friendships. When the early church was born at Pentecost Acts 242 says their meetings included these 4 elements: Teaching, fellowship, food, prayer. Fellowship is holy, not an afterthought to a meeting as in, 'After our service we will have fellowship in the kitchen area.' They met in homes and knowing one another was important - and that is where God moved to heal, answer prayer, connect people in caring godly relationships.
Without fanfare Jesus is moving in the midst of relationships among believers. We are seeing more healings, more miracles, more answered prayer in our network than ever before. It doesn't matter whether it happens in a web meeting or in someone's home, around the world the Lord is on the move. Being meek and lowly in heart, He doesn't seek media attention - He just goes about His business as He always has.
In the visitation of December 2019 and in a recent visitation, the Lord expanded His comments to me about how house churches would be known as the place to go for answered prayer, provision, and miracles in one's life. .
Christianity must be spiritual and have the Spirit of God moving in our midst
If we don't regularly have the Holy Spirit in us and through us towards others we end up having a form of godliness yet denying the power. It's not their fault: The auditorium church structure of service doesn't allow for everyone to move in the Spirit or receive prayer in small groups. As a result, we have Christians who know all about Jesus, but have never seen the Holy Spirit move in their midst.
Worse yet, we have pastors who know how to lead a service but not how to move in the gifts of the Spirit. We have worship leaders who know how to lead a service, but not how to set the stage for the Holy Spirit to move in the midst. Many Christians know about Him, but don't know Him. They don't know the Father.
We all need to know that Christ really does live in us and speaks to us, and guides us, and shows us things to come. Without Him in our midst we have a form of godliness but don't know the power thereof.
Just like in the early church in Acts 2-4, just like in Rome during times of persecution, just like in nations in the last 2,000 years that have persecuted Christians, there is coming a time when many of those Christians who are in close relationships with others in home based meetings will have their needs met while many on the outside will be in need. Even in the US, we may have a reprieve, but that is all it is. Remember what the Lord told me 2/4/2001: "As it was in the beginning so it must be now; I'm moving in relationships."
Sobering to think about - new subject next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org