And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Philippians 1:14. (EHV).
Here’s that why behind the what again. In the previous verses, Paul said that his bad thing – being imprisoned, in chains, for the gospel – turned out to be a good thing because the Gospel spread. The reason why that’s a good thing is that people see what true believers are willing to endure for faith in Jesus and then they, themselves, become more confident in their own faith and bold to share it without fear.
Have you considered that the biggest Christian nation on earth – the nation with the most believers in Jesus by population – is the United States? And that the one place where it should NOT grow (because the government there is atheist, Communist, and hostile to God in all ways) is the People’s Republic of China? According to Pew Research, in the USA there are 248 million Christians; that’s approximately 75% of the population. In the USA, for the moment, people are mostly free to exercise any religion they want, especially Christianity. There are dozens of denominations; there are services and practices for any comfort level in the faith. Think of that: 248 million people saying they believe in Christ crucified. And yet that number is actually declining.
Then consider the People’s Republic where, according to billionbibles.org, there may be as many as 234 million Christians. Out of a current estimated population of 1.435 billion Chinese, this means that 16% of the Chinese population professes to believe in Jesus Christ. If their faith is discovered, Christians in China are likely to be persecuted in one way or another, either by forced silence or actual imprisonment. Untold thousands have been sent to Chinese gulags and no accurate number is really known how many have been executed for being Christian. Yet the faith is growing.
In North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen it is a death penalty offense to say you believe in Jesus Christ. And people do it anyway. Just in those countries, thousands of people do it anyway.
Because watching someone be persecuted, lightly or harshly, may just spur you to think more about your own faith. It may spur you to profess truths you hadn’t seriously considered. It might just make you think in different ways. The same “why” that explains why first century believers were strengthened by Paul’s persecution explains the things happening in our world today. The Gospel can’t be contained by puny human methods, and where it is actively denied in the dark a tiny light can shine all that much brighter.
For further reading: Acts 4:29, Acts 21:33, Philippians 1:15
Lord Jesus, where I’m stumbling in dark failure to share You where I am, teach me to shine so that others may benefit.