george hancockstefanWithin our churches, there are those people on whom you can count on to be present every Sunday. Rain or shine, wind or sleet, they are in God’s house.  They are there because they want to worship God, they are there because they have established a solid tradition, they are there because they are aware of the strength that comes from numbers, they are there because many of their relationships are there, and they are there because they want to support the minister, the choirs, and anyone who participates in the planning and participation in the worship service.

When I grew up in Eastern Europe and Christians were persecuted, we would talk about visible and hidden Christians.  We knew that there have been Christians in the Communist Party, and therefore, in many aspects of governmental life.  There were people who argued that we as Christians benefitted from these type of Christians because from time to time, they were able to defend us.  There were others who criticized these types of Christians and called them cowards because they avoided persecution and lived a comfortable life. Others argued that Jesus Christ never sanctioned hidden Christians – he invited them to come out and be a witness for Him.

When I came to the United States, I was introduced to the Christmas and Easter Christians, or sometimes referred to as inactive Christians.  They may have been active at one time, but they would tell you that they belong to a particular church.  However asking them who was the current minister was always difficult for these Christians.  Christmas and Easter Christians were once primarily a Catholic lot, but their numbers have expanded in other Protestant Churches, even among the Baptists, though their members are newborn Christians, who by their own, came into the Christian fold at an age when they knew what they were doing.

As a Pastor, I know that in the final analysis only the Lord knows those who are saved. At the same time, the Lord tells us that we shall know those who are His by the fruit that they bear.  If a person declares that they belong to God, I would like to see some fruit that identified them with the kingdom of God.

At the same time, I am always cautious not to fall in Elijah’s trap when he cried unto the Lord that he was the only one left and if he will perish, God will have no witness in the land. God assured him there were about 3,000 like him of whom he had no idea.

In a time when the NONES are the increasing group – belonging to no religious organizations, it would be great to have more people who are in the hidden category come up and join those of us who are struggling against the opposition.  

Jesus Christ, by the power of His resurrection defeated the Devil, sin, and death and we hope defeated the fear that keeps many followers hidden.  It is very interesting to read that in the Gospels, many priests loved what Jesus said, but kept themselves hidden.  However, in the book of Acts, when the Holy Spirit comes, many of the priests join the church.

May our hidden believers come forth in this post resurrection season.