The booming voice came from outside, announcing he was a government official and was there to inspect the inside of the church.
A training event had just gotten underway and the “inspection to see if the national flag was hoisted at the front of the sanctuary” was a pretense to see who was there and what was going on. As it turned out, this did NOT turn into a big deal, but brought home the point that the rules have changed and church practices are coming under scrutiny. At the same time, at another location, another of our training events went ahead as planned without interruption. It appears these changes in the official outlook are driven by:
- Ideology. The government is concerned about what people think. Christian teaching needs to be compatible with socialism.
- Control. The government is concerned that religious activities must be better managed. Churches are potentially the largest group of society not under government control. This is not about closing churches, however, every church must become registered.
- National Security. Christianity is seen as a foreign religion. Every time a Christian activity involves a foreigner, it will be given serious attention. In line with this, recently, a large number of foreigners lost their visas and were expelled from the country.
Throughout history, the Church has survived attempts to restrict the good news of the Gospel. Systematic, restrictive conditions often help the church shed her excesses, hone her strengths, and refine the life transforming power of her message. This could be God’s way of housecleaning.