It’s a crisp, fall morning. I stumble my way to my coffee maker, first things first, then to find my fleece sweatshirt. I settle into my morning spot with all my comforts: coffee, warm blanket, and Bible. All is well. All is safe, and easy, and peaceful.
When I’m done, I check the news. Persecution. I click away, not wanting to see bloody bodies, burned buildings, and beheaded children in party dresses.
I feel guilty, because I don’t want to see.
A sister in Christ just died for the faith, and I don’t want to see.
Mothers have been separated from children, driven from their homes, no food, no water, no anything but hope in Christ and the resurrection from the dead, a hope they’re willing to die for,
and I won’t let my eyes land.
No, I actually avert my eyes. I don’t choose “persecution” this morning. I choose rosy things, trendy things: Pinterest, Martha Stewart, and Starbucks.
My coffee is lukewarm.
I sip it, and swallow hard.
And I wonder if my heart is lukewarm as well.
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
I feel the Spirit nudging me, awakening me, giving me signs of life where I was once cold.
I decide to pray for the persecuted.
I pray nebulously for them, but the Spirit nudges again. I know I’m not in the right frame of mind. I need to pray as though they were my own brothers and sisters, mother and father, husband and children.
Not sterile, dutiful, distant prayers– not arms length prayers—
but desperate prayers that identify with the ONE body. THIS IS YOUR FAMILY.
Fact: You can’t read the news without hearing about Christians who are being persecuted in the name of “religion” every single day.
Fact: We are in a holy war and we don’t know it.
While thousands are being slaughtered– brutally murdered for nothing more than being Christians– modern evangelicalism is entertained to death. Oh, we’re the most “educated” and “resourced” church in history, and we’re spending time –actual minutes of actual days–debating things like this.
Call me crazy, but I believe that the coming persecution will be good for the American church. Yes, for all of us.
“Whenever the true message of the cross is abolished, the anger of hypocrites and heretics ceases… and all things are in peace. This is a sure token that the devil is guarding the entry to the house, and that the PURE doctrine of God’s Word has been taken away. The Church then, is in the BEST state, when Satan assaileth it on every side… both with subtle sleights, and outright violence. And likewise it is in the WORST state when it is most at peace.” ~Martin Luther
Jesus told us to expect persecution.
Jesus calls the saint’s death “precious.”
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Ps. 116:15
Why would this be? Why would God call the most horrific thing we could think of “precious?”
Perhaps because God is such a loving heavenly Father, that He’s excited to give us all of the eternal blessings He has promised us for so long? Eternal life and an inheritance that has been stored up for us for so long. Perhaps our homecoming is like Christmas morning, only better.
Persecution helps us to remember that:
- there’s more to this life than what we can see, hear, taste, smell and feel. There’s eternity.
- we’re pilgrims and strangers on this earth. This is all temporary.
- Christianity is worth living and dying for.
- there is a true spiritual battle going on, but the end is already determined: “Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
With so much talk about replicating the authentic early church, now may be our time.
The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity. ~unknown
But with the persecution, comes joy. The gold bought by fire brings joy.
Tertullian, famous for saying “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”, also confesses this:
“The Christian, even when he is condemned, gives thanks.”
That’s the “other worldly” mindset I long for.
And I have to say that I’m ready for persecution if that’s what it takes to get rid of this blight of apathy in my own soul, and in the church at large.
“Don’t you see them exposed to wild beasts for the purpose of persuading them to deny the Lord, yet they are not overcome? Don’t you see that the more of them that are punished, the greater the number of the rest becomes? This does not seem to be the work of man. This is the power of God. These are the evidences of his appearance.” ~Letters to Diognetus, AD 80
Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world. For it is plain that, though beheaded, crucified, thrown to wild beasts, chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; instead, the more such things happen, the more others—in even larger numbers—become faithful and worshippers of God through the name of Jesus. For if someone were to cut away the fruit-bearing parts of a vine, it would grow up again and yield other branches, flourishing and fruitful. Even so, the same thing happens with us.~ Justin Marytr, AD 150
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”