Video from Desiring God
Do Christians Really Suffer in America? - Ask Pastor John
If you live in the prosperous West, you are blessed like very few people ever have been in the history of the world. A glut of digital technologies abound, like the chain of technology we are using right now to communicate with one another. More importantly, things like infant- and child-mortality rates are lower than ever. Life expectancy rates have peaked and are projected to keep rising. Here in America, few if any die of starvation. Famines are unheard of here. Motor-vehicle fatalities have been in steep decline for the past fifty years — same with plane-related deaths. Poverty rates in the States have plummeted in the past fifty years. National GDP continues to go up and to the right. Life is as safe as ever. We are some of the most comfortable people who have ever existed. And all these blessings together raise questions for Christians, who are promised that they will suffer in this life.
A listener named Marissa is trying to work this out. “Hello, Pastor John. I am leading a Bible study through 1 Peter right now. And as you know, Peter makes it very clear that Christians will suffer, just as Christ did. I’m curious how we Christians suffer in a first-world country like America, where we are not physically persecuted for our beliefs. I don’t think I have ever really suffered for the sake of Christ. Feelings get hurt on social media — there’s a cultural pushback, of course — but I’ve never lost anything of value in this world due to being a Christian. Does this make me a weak, or a lazy, Christian? Or should I simply thank God for the rare peace I have enjoyed in this age?”
This is such an important question for those of us who live in what, without exaggeration, we could call the Disney World of the nations. Even the poor in America, by comparison, live in luxury, compared to six hundred million extremely poor people with no access to adequate food, shelter, medical care, clean water, education — not to mention the saving message of Jesus. One of the reasons I live where I live in a poorer part of Minneapolis is because I dread becoming oblivious to the brokenness and the neediness of the world.
So, here are five things that I see in the Bible to give guidance to those of us who live in relative comfort and security and wealth.
1. Press more deeply into the darkness.
Both Jesus and the apostles said that if we are faithful Christians, we will experience some measure of persecution and other kinds of suffering in the path of obedience. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” They will be. Jesus said in Matthew 10:25, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” In John 15:20, he said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” And Paul taught in Acts 14:22, to every new believer, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”.. Transcript