As Christians in our western democracies, we do not like what we perceive as the erosion of our beliefs, in the sense that our cultures are becoming more and more secularised. But it some places it is still dangerous to even profess your faith on any level. I have no idea what it is like to live in a country such as China with the controls on all forms of religious expression.
At the Washington Post, there is an article on house churches that have registered with the government, but have rejected the rules that they are required to obey. Which for them is an incredibily courageous move:
Here in Wenzhou and the surrounding province of Zhejiang, just south of Shanghai, a growing number of congregations that began life as house churches – unauthorized places of worship set up in private, often dilapidated homes – have recently registered with the government, while continuing to spurn the rules of the official Protestant church in China. Like so many institutions in China, these churches now hover in a sort of legal netherworld.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to live my faith under that scrutiny, but it is challenging because I realise that I do not take advantage of the freedom that is available to me to speak up and share the Good News. It puts into context the situation in the western Christian church where there is squabbling over comparatively insignificant points. We need to keep praying for the persecuted church overseas.