The recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s mandate limiting church attendance to fifty people while allowing other businesses to maintain an occupancy of fifty percent slid quietly under the radar of many Christians in America. The Supreme Court of the United States handed, in essence, a carte blanche hammer with which Governor Sisolak, and any other governor for that matter, can strike at religious liberty in their respective state. One must remember, this case limited church attendance to fifty people. Businesses such as bowling alleys, fitness centers, breweries, and yes, let’s not overlook this one, casinos, where in some cases over one thousand people can gather shoulder to shoulder, face to face, and express loud delight upon winning or equally loud dissent upon losing, were granted much broader latitude by the governor and the Supreme Court. One more exception was cited, protesters. It seems those intent on protest can gather without any concerns over legal repercussions…or contracting or spreading Covid-19 for that matter. So much for the statement of the Nevada Attorney General, who is credited with this statement toward the church, “You can’t spit…in the face of law and not expect law to respond.” One concludes that the only thing making a difference here is the direction from which spittle is launched.
We are watching as the door upon our religious freedom is closing. The church, and by church I mean the true church which is built upon the foundation of Christ and the Apostles and which embraces the Bible as both the grounds of existence as well as the manual of operation, is under attack as never before in America. It seems now even the sacrosanct guarantees of the Bill of Rights, those cherished words which grant us the protected right of worship as well as those who decry such actions, are being torn from the fabric of our culture. Such action can only lead to further dissolution of our society. Today’s church must seek to retain our freedom, but more importantly, we must fall on our face before the Judge of the earth and cry out for mercy, forgiveness, and restoration (2 Chronicles 7:14). That being said, the convergence of vitriol, physical attacks, and legal maneuvering against the body of Christ should come as no surprise and certainly not shake the faith of a believer.
The history of the church is rooted in hatred and opposition against both the Lord of the Church and those who comprise the tangible expression of our Savior. The church was birthed and grew under such circumstances. Jewish religionists linked with Roman polytheists, a strange pair of bedfellows if such ever existed, to present a united front of opposition to the fledgling church. By the time Jesus sent a message to the church located at Pergamos (Revelation 2:13), opposition to the church was becoming legalized, with Pergamos being one of the principal court settings of the Roman empire. Tens of thousands of men, women, and children would follow the bloody trail walked by Antipas, the prized possession of Christ (Revelation 2:13), due to the legalization of the murder of Christians by a court at Pergamos. Opposition to the cause of Christ, even outright hatred, should not alarm the believer. Jesus was clear about this, “If the world hates you, know it hated Me first” (John 15:18). We belong to One the world has despised all along.
Amazingly, the church has not only survived when vehement opposition has arisen, it has flourished. In the earliest of times, when church leaders decided they would obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), the church “turned the world upside down” in spite of legal and religious measures being employed to stamp out the faith (Acts 17:6). Through the ages, regardless of the fact that laws have been passed prohibiting the worship of Jesus and pogroms have been launched against those daring to follow the One once dead but now alive forever, the aggression against the church has resulted in a flourishing movement intent on serving Jesus and sharing Him with everyone possible.
Nowhere was this displayed with more prominence than in the last half century in China. When President Nixon began the process which resulted in the lifting of the bamboo curtain, missiologists felt there would be scant evidence of Christianity across the massive population. What they uncovered was shocking. China, far from being devoid of believers, had literally millions of devoted Christians. They had to meet, for the most part, in secret locations and worship in ways we in America would frown upon, but they flourished under the despotic regimes which sought to stamp out Jesus. Even today, as China is one of the leading violators of human and religious rights, the church of Jesus Christ is exploding. While we in America are lamenting a downward trend in church attendance and seem willing to go to any extreme to keep the audience happy, the persecuted church in China marches forward. In fact, China is “…on a course to become the most Christian nation on earth within the next fifteen years. The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that by 2030 it could have more people going to church than America.”
We in America should stand for our rights. We should seek to preserve those rights which grant us freedom to speak out and gather to worship without fear of governmental reprisal. Paul set the pace for this exercise when he appealed to his rights as a citizen of Rome (Acts 22). We must also recognize the fact that this same government later executed Paul for his beliefs. Governments are led by fallen humans and are subject to wild and erratic pendulum swings in matters of justice and liberty. Rome was no different. As we witness the erosion of the cohesive documents which had held American together these two hundred plus years, we will, no doubt, experience the same descent into the loss of freedom by the majority and the elevation of the few into positions of power. Only heaven knows where such actions will take us, but history does not paint a glowing portrait of such actions. That which can be asserted with assurance is the fact the church of Jesus Christ will not only survive; it will flourish until the day He returns to gather His own unto Himself.
 Judge Alito Dissent, www.supremecourt.gov.