On this Good Friday, I share an article with you that is affecting me profoundly. Read “Bearing the Silence of God” by Ziya Meral here.
We Western-world type Christians tend to have a gigantic blind spot, I think. We tend to be selfish, focused on our own needs, and have developed great theologies for how God has promised (we hear “guaranteed”) to bless us. We equate spiritual “success” with bigger church buildings, more attenders, more money, and more church staff to do more stuff. We think persecution is having to say “Happy Holidays” at work instead of “Merry Christmas.” I have often thought that we just don’t have a clue in a lot of ways.
The historical, theological, and sociological reality is that the global church is not in the West, nor is it thoroughly Westernized (nor should it be). Most of the Church does not think like we think (though it has been well-documented that the “prosperity gospel” has made several in-roads into Africa and other “third world” areas. Not sure it’s working there either.) Large sections of the Church undergo regular persecution– real persecution.
Some in the Church have gone to great lengths to prove that Jesus was not “poor” when He was here, and that we should not expect to be either when we follow Jesus. I’m not going to debate that (either way), and I’m not trying to say that Jesus was a beggar beside the road dressed in rags. What I am saying is this: I wonder how much of our “blessing” theologies in the West (be they pentecostal, word of faith, charismatic, evangelical, mainline, or whatever– because they all essentially boil down to the same principles and/or scriptures) are emerging from some kind of a modern-American dream-capitalism fed ideologies and not from the life and teachings of Jesus, his apostles, and the whole of the scriptures? When I look at the lives of Jesus, Paul of Tarsus, Simon Peter, et al, I just don’t see the kind of Christianity that I see when I look around America and the West. I do see suffering, rejection, arrest, persecution, miracles, and martyrdom.
And those are the things that much of the global Church is and has been experiencing too, far from the eyes of CNN, Christian TV, Christian book stores, and big churches.
I’m not saying no one knows about these things… but what are we doing about it? Can we live our lives differently? Are our theologies skewed by where we live and how “prosperous” we get to be in the West? Do we really know what persecution is?