True Christianity is an underground religion.  When socio-political situations exist which force Christians to ‘go underground’ all that remains of the religion is what it really is and really should be.  When Christianity is accepted, protected or (even worse) officially supported by any socio-political system, we people who make up any religion begin to add more and more ‘stuff’ on top of the basic tenets of that religion that hide the true nature of it.  And sometimes – even conflict with the true nature of it.  This stuff is what is most commonly referred to as the religious ‘institutions’.  We turn principles into rules & formulas, we turn spiritual counsel into required structures, we ‘enhance’ our religion with patterns and ‘solutions’ from the broader society, and we define and sub-define and sub define until all the wonder and mystery, much of the faith, and almost all of the creativity are buried.  Further, much of the power that is revealed through the bare bones truth of the religion when people MUST rely on it becomes buried and hidden by all the accoutrements and methods we have added to it in order to avoid having to risk fully relying on it.

But put us into a situation where we have to truly RISK something in order to live out our religion and it makes it much easier to distinguish the true nature of that religion from all of the junk we’ve laid on top of it.  Organization owned buildings and facilities are quickly seen as less than necessary.  Large, lavish, well produced gatherings as the luxuries they are (and sometimes self-indulgence for the leaders of such gatherings).  Requirements for formal seminary training and ordination by human religious institutions are seen as enhancements rather than core functions (though training and instruction would still be carried out with much energy).   Our tendency to divide up our fellowship into more and more particular groups of people and associate only with those we most closely agree with is clearly shown as the divide and be conquered foolishness it really is.

On the flip side, watching out for each other, spiritually and (much more often) materially supporting those who are under greater pressure than ourselves, living in constant prayer, diligently searching scripture for day to day guidance in small community based groups rather than relying on large libraries of preference based, denominationally approved ‘resources’ (or highly trained spiritual ‘experts’), and passing on the gospel through personal witness rather than depending on mass crusades, well known evangelists, or large public church ‘services’ to get the job done become obviously and immediately important.  Which, it should be obvious, is actually what we should have been doing all along . . . should be doing regardless of our socio-political situation.

I’ll likely write more on this again sometime, but for now I’ll summarize.  Christianity lives, even thrives, under persecution.  It tends to get flabby when accepted due in large part to the baggage we add to it that we end up mistaking for the religion itself.  What we need, as comfortable developed nation Christians, is to attempt to retain the essentials and mindset of the underground religion even when we are not forced under ground.  True Christianity is an underground religion.