A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Back at the dawn of history, when I was a but a wee lad, my family had the God-given insight to bring me up in an evangelical church. I had no say in where I attended church, See, kids back then kept their mouths shut and their ears open and paid heed to their parents, their elders. (That is why I contend that my generation is so much smarter than the generations that followed.)
Anyway, I recall clearly how my church was referred to as a "Missionary" Baptist Church. See, our congregation helped to support missionaries the world over. It was our church's way of carrying out the last instructions Christ gave his church when he took leave of this world to go prepare a place for his followers. Here's what He said:
"19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." This is referred to as "The Great Commission" and you will find it at Matthew 28:19 - 20. (The New Testament)
In a single sentence the Christian church was given its assignment -- the sole purpose of the church until the return of Christ.
Back in the middle of the twentieth century, many of the Christian denominations in America were trying their dead level best to carry out those orders, for that was what they were -- orders.
It is true that back then America was truly a Christian nation. On Sunday mornings you had to arrive early to get a seat in a pew, else you were left standing along the back wall, or the ushers placed folding chairs in the aisles (Which would freak out today's fire marshals!)
Americans went to church back then. Our little church constantly had well over 200 persons in Sunday School. That number is far more than many mainline churches today enjoy in their Sunday morning worship services!
As I mentioned above, we gave lots of financial support to missionaries the world over.
Now, the vast majority of the membership were blue collar workers who were employed by a cotton mill which had once been the largest cotton mill under one roof in the world. Nobody got rich, but we all lived well. We had a sturdy roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food on the table, a family that loved each other, a father who would go to whatever end was necessary to protect his little family, and we had a string anchor in the faith of our fathers.
The tithe was then, as it is today, ten percent of one's income. And over and above that, the offering plates were passed at all services for those wishing to make a "love" offering toward the financing of the church's mission. Those offering plates were filled each Sunday.
Several times a year the offerings were dedicated to one missionary or other serving the heathens and pagans in far-flung corners of the earth so that we could carry out that Great Commission I mentioned above.
Once I recall, we helped purchase an airplane for a missionary, as I recall, in Africa. The only time we ever saw the plane was when the missionary thoughtfully sent us a snapshot of it with her and a few of her dusky skinned parishioners standing beside it.
Now, recall, I said the membership was blue collar. They had very little disposable income after the bills were paid, their family's needs taken care of, and groceries were bought.
Their wallets may have been small but their hearts were huge.
One year the church decided that each church family would give their entire salary for that week to a fund for a particular missionary who had hit a rough patch and was in dire need of funding. And we did. And yes, it hurt ... but it hurt GOOD!
I got to thinking about all this when I saw an article entitled: "China May Soon Be the World's Most Christian Nation." My first thought was that maybe all those missionaries we helped fund really had an impact on China.
"Demographic research shows that Communist China may become the world's most Christian nation in the next 15 years, a projection the godless government in Beijing is doing all it can to refute.
In 1949 the number of Christians in the newly communist nation was estimated at just one million. But by 2010, according to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, that number had skyrocketed to more than 58 million Protestants alone..." -- SOURCE: http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/asia/item/18151-china-may-soon-be-the-world-s-most-christian-nation?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=c1203749fe-The_Editors_Top_Picks_3_12_143_12_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8ca494f2d2-c1203749fe-289784169
The article goes on: "Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule, predicted recently that “China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon.” Yang, considered one of the leading experts on faith and religion in China, said that China's Protestant population is set to swell to some 160 million, putting it ahead of the United States, whose Protestant population topped out at around 159 million a few years ago, but which has reportedly been declining as of late."
Here in America true Christianity is in mortal danger. For in America, you see, if a minister steps into the pulpit and preaches the true Gospel, he is subject to be dragged into court on charges of hate crimes. His church's tax exempt status is in danger of being revoked.
I wondered recently how long it would be before government agents will be walking church parking lots during services, taking note of license plate numbers of attendees because the government already considers conservative Christians potential domestic terrorists.
So, I appeal to the Christian countries of the world, send Christian missionaries! America needs your help! Please send missionaries armed with the true gospel, not the watered down pabulum fed congregants from the pulpits of America's churches today.
America's Christians did not forget you when you were begging for the gospel, now, we, here in America, need, desperately, to find our way again and we seem unable to do it without outside assistance.
Understand, the Christian church in America may soon find it necessary to go underground just as the church in many of your countries had to do and just as the early Christians in Rome did to insure the gospel survived.
How bad is it today in America? Recent research found: " ... that each generation is more post-Christian than the one that came before it. Only 28 percent of seniors (ages 67 and greater) are considered post-Christian, as compared to 35 percent of Boomers (ages 48 to 66), 40 percent of Busters (ages 29 to 47) and 48 percent of Mosaics (ages 18 to 28). Kinnaman says this type of research could serve as a glimpse into the "spiritual, moral and social future" of the United States." -- SOURCE: http://www.christianpost.com/news/america-becoming-increasingly-post-christian-research-shows-93967/
In an article entitled: "The Spirit of Tolerance, Post-Christian America and the Laodicean Church" published in July of 2013, the author, Larry Tomczak, said the following: "This month, the youth-oriented Relevant magazine, published by Cameron Strang, ran an article on the topic of post-Christian America. Quoting a Barna Group study, the article cited that in America, seven of 10 people describe themselves as Christian. Yet consider the following statistics cited:
57 percent have not read the Bible in the last week
41 percent agree that Jesus committed sins
29 percent disagree that the Bible is accurate " -- SOURCE: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/40240-the-spirit-of-tolerance-post-christian-america-and-the-laodicean-church
THIS, dear reader, is what passes for a Christian in America today.
Yes, as someone has said, America HAS become the sort of country to which we used to send missionaries.
We have, indeed, come full circle.
J. D. Longstreet