Beginning with mugshot photographs of Russian Christians about to be murdered by the Soviets, John Burgess ponders what freedom means for Christians. He includes some good perspective for believers (Christian and otherwise) who fear the direction our society is headed:
The blessings of relative peace, prosperity, and humane governance in the modern West may further encourage us to think of freedom as the ability or right to fulfill our physical and emotional desires. Yet these desires, in fact, mostly control us. While we may believe that we have freely chosen to pursue what we imagine to be personal well-being and happiness, we are, in fact, driven by pride and sloth. …
Strengthened by spiritual practices and transformed by divine worship, the pure in heart attain spiritual freedom: the freedom to resist powers of evil and to live for God by worshipping him alone.
Indeed, with that as our goal, living in times of comfort can be more challenging:
Over the centuries, Christians have often recognized that they are more apt to discover spiritual freedom under conditions of persecution than when they are afforded toleration. When the Church is socially acceptable and when religious affiliation is more a matter of custom than faith, those who call themselves Christians are easily tempted to sell their inheritance of spiritual freedom for the pottage of social privilege and material wealth. This temptation is, perhaps, also ours in America today. A legally guaranteed right to religious freedom may too easily be mistaken for true Christian freedom.
And the key point:
Recognizing that human faith is feeble, Christians over the centuries have generally concluded that they should not seek persecution, even though we should be prepared to accept it.
Persecution, that is, is something neither seek nor avoid. In other words, neither persecution nor comfort should be the basic foundation of our decisions. We are charged to move toward God, being neither distracted by the attractions of comfort nor intimidated by the promise of pain and difficulty.