Posted by Rod Neufeld on November 10, 2015
“Then shall they
deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of
all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall
betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall
rise, and shall deceive many.”
Matthew 24:9-11 KJV
Sunday as we filed into church we weren’t quite sure what to expect, we were after all fortunate enough to be allowed to gather and worship our Lord. We did the usual walking around, shaking hands and catching up with our friends. Talked about our week, kids etc…
This day was different, we had a guest speaker from Voice of the Martyrs Canada. Today some eyes were opened wider, some eyes were opened for the first time. You see, we speak of persecution and we often mistake just what that means. In North America it comes as ridicule, intolerance and the like. This is a form of persecution no doubt. Let’s face it, the average North American doesn’t even understand what it means to be a Christian as we see in the news everyday. The level of persecution we face is based mostly on simple ignorance or complete misunderstanding of what we as true Christians actually stand for ( truth of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we want to see all people come to salvation through His saving grace).
There is serious persecution happening all over God’s Creation. As we heard on Sunday,more Christians have been imprisoned, beaten and executed in the last 25 years than in the rest of recorded history to that point. It is not only dangerous but illegal to be a Christian or even worship openly in 55 countries of the world (That numbers was 53 a couple of years ago).
Here is where it gets a little troubling, more often than not western Christians think
of that as an eastern Christian problem! Say what!
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that
in all things he might have the preeminence.”
Colossians 1:18 KJV
You will notice it says that “He is the head of the body”, “the church” not separating it by man-made boundaries, hemispheres etc… We are one body with many parts,when one part is hurt we are all hurt. I may sound harsh here but if anyone thinks this is someone else’s problem, they may not be on the same team, Christ only has one team! All believers need our prayers and support, no matter the country, state or region. God can do some pretty amazing things when we trust in Him more than the world.
We were told of a situation that happened at a church in Pakistan, armed and masked gunmen burst into the service and announced, anyone who renounces their faith in Jesus you would be allowed to leave. Out of the 35 people in the service only 8 stayed, the pastor, his wife and some of the elder couples. The gunmen closed and locked the doors and took off their masks. Their leader said, now we see who the true believers are, please tell us about this Jesus you preach of……. They thought the worst but an amazing thing happened and it was because
in the face of sure death a few true Christians stood their ground and trusted in the only One that can save.
What will it take to wake us from our slumber? How many of our brothers and sisters must be murdered before we will even take notice? We are all of one body, fellow believers, joint heirs with Christ.
I am personally inspired by those that face persecution everyday but stand their ground in the name of Christ, I must admit I am a bit ashamed at how easily I fold when confronted about my Saviour. How
many are even willing to admit that? When we can admit that, we can begin to grow.
I am not saying we need to drop everything and head to the far reaches of the world to jump in front of a bullet for someone. It really starts with us on our knees!Praying not only for the persecuted but for the persecutors! Pray not only for the oppressed but pray for the oppressors.
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a
righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we
shall be saved by his life.”
Romans 5:6-10 KJV
For we too were once enemies of God, now we are called His children, Christ died so that
all who believe may be saved. He does the picking and the saving we just arrange the meeting by sharing the Gospel and praying.
I believe it is best to finish with the words of Christ:
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be
the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise
on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Matthew 5:44-45 KJV
The challenge: pray not just for your friends but for your enemies today!