The Untested Faith of Western Christians

Posted on April 26, 2022


By David Ettinger

True Persecution
In 1992 a friend gave me a copy of the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. Voice of the Martyrs is a Christian organization which monitors and reports on Christian persecution throughout the world and provides spiritual and practical aid to victims.

The newsletter was filled with accounts of Christians being evicted from villages; Christians whose homes were burned to the ground; Christians who had arms and legs lopped off by machetes; and those set on fire and left to die. There were accounts of Christians, guns pressed against their temples, being told, “Renounce Christ or die.” They held to their faith and died. There were accounts of persecutors pointing guns at the 5-year-old children of Christians and saying, “Renounce Christ or your children will be killed right now.” The Christians held firm.

I was staggered by these accounts of unyielding faith of those who refused to renounce their Lord and Savior. Three decades later, I am still staggered by these testimonies of faith as Christian persecution continues to increase and intensify.

The Challenge in the West
Though religious liberties in the West are eroding, Christians have no idea what true persecution is. After all, Western believers are still free to worship how they want. Churches are not being shut down. Law enforcers are not breaking down the doors of Christian households and hauling them off to jail.

Christians in North America, Europe, and Australia are not being evicted from towns and cities. Western believers are not being turned over to the authorities by family members and neighbors. Western Christians are not being forced to go “underground,” i.e., to worship in secret. Christian radio and television still thrives and, so far, the Gospel has free rein.

It’s true that some Christians – bakery owners come to mind – are having their livelihoods jeopardized by standing on principle, but violent and deadly Christian persecution has not reached Western shores. The most serious challenge facing Western believers is the unjust perception heaped upon us that we are bigoted, hateful, and ignorant.

Unbelievers don’t understand how far from the truth this is. As Christians, we are to care deeply about the souls of the unsaved, deeply enough to share with them the truth of eternal life in Christ. But the world doesn’t see this; to them we are primitive and prejudiced, and humanity would be better off without us.

It is hurtful and wrong, but it is not persecution.

Untested Christianity
Because Western Christians do not face true persecution, our Christianity, though real, is untested. Though we can lament our dwindling freedoms, the truth remains that we are still free.

But what happens if real Christian persecution comes to the West? What if Christianity is officially declared an enemy of the state and Christians are relegated to second-class-citizen status? What if national laws allow employers to fire you for being a Christian? What if you are a renter and owners can refuse to rent you a home because you are a Christian, or to evict you if they discover you are a follower of Christ?

For homeowners, what if the bank which holds your mortgage can simply rip up its contract with you, causing you to lose your home? What if Christian-haters are granted extensive leeway to vent their contempt at you physically? In other words, the government may not enact laws sanctioning the beating and killing of Christians because society must be kept “civil,” but it could view violent acts against Christians as warranting little more than a slap on the wrist.

What if your children are being beaten up at school or by neighbor kids because they are “dirty Christians”?

If such are the “consequences” of your faith, will you be able to display the same kind of fortitude as our brothers and sisters in Asia and Africa?

Putting Christ First
Think about it. What if you are being tortured and the only way to stop it is by renouncing Christ? What if a gun is placed at your temple and you know for certain that the trigger will be pressed unless you renounce Christ?

What if a gun is pointing at your children or grandchildren and the only way to rescue them is by renouncing Christ? Will you be able to say, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I will not renounce Him”?

I think about this often and am reminded of the sobering words of Hebrews 12:4: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” In other words, it would be better to die for Christ than to go on sinning against Him.

If we can’t even love Christ enough to stop dishonoring Him by sinning, how in the world can we love Him enough to die for Him in the face of fierce persecution?

In my prayers, I always ask God to endow me with the kind of love that would gladly die for Him no matter what. This is a love I cannot muster on my own; I need God’s supernatural power to give it to me. Without the Lord’s supernatural enabling, I know I will fail the test should anyone ever point a gun at my head and say, “Renounce Christ or die.”

May God give us the fortitude and love to die for Him should He ever test our faith in such a noble way.

David Ettinger is a writer/editor at Zion’s Hope, Inc., and has written for Zion’s Fire magazine since its inception in 1990.