Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Future Or God's Glory

As he was beaten he shouted, “I’m a Christian!”  They hit him harder and he said it again, “I’m a Christian!”  If he would just renounce his faith the beating would stop.  The persecution became worse and he never stopped repeating the words.  “I’m a Christian!” he said until they killed him.  Witnessing believers were inspired by his actions and responded boldly resulting in even more deaths.  In fact, so many Christians were brought into this persecution that they were dying of suffocation from being so tightly packed together in their holding cells.

This particular story of persecution, while sounding like something from CNN yesterday, is actually over 1,800 years old.  So what happens when a young Church is faced with such severe treatment even unto mass death?  What happened 1,900 years ago when Christians were killed just so their bodies could be set on fire to provide light for the evening games?  What happened when leaders were crucified, burned to death and torn apart by animals just because they confessed Jesus Christ as the Son of God?

The Church grew.  God was with them.  The Gospel was spread.  God was glorified.

So what will happen if this current persecution doesn’t get better?  What happens if 60 countries at a summit can’t stop evil?  What will become of the Church?  What will become of the Christians?

The Church will grow.  God will be with us.  The Gospel will be spread.  God will be glorified.

As I read the news tonight I came across an article about the brother of two of the twenty-one martyred Coptic Christians.  He said he was thankful that ISIS included the declaration of faith in their video.  He said his faith was strengthened!  Those from their village said, “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs.”  Wow!

All of this can cause my insides to whirl around and bubble up with concern, curiosity and desired outcomes.  May I please be candid and share with you some of the thoughts I have in my heart right now?
  1. I’m concerned about the world my children will experience but optimistic about their capacity to improve it.
  2. I wish that hearts filled with hatred could know the joy of a heart filled with love.
  3. I hope my Christian brothers and sisters can show the world how to love people regardless of their faith, nationality, race, ethnicity, etc, etc, etc.
  4. I remember a challenge from years back to memorize more Scripture in preparation for persecution and wish I had taken it more seriously.
  5. I’m constantly asking myself “what if that happened to me?” or “what if that happened to someone in my family?” and praying about how I answer the question.
  6. It seems that living overseas has caused me to feel more connected to the Church around the world.
  7. I’m proud of my Christian family members living in persecution and I pray they are encouraged in their faith.
  8. I wonder if through this I am more concerned with my future than God's glory.
I know these thoughts all seem a little disjointed, maybe overly emotional, possibly even rash.  Persecution does this.  It acts like a fire under the pot that causes things to boil.  When we boil we begin to bubble and the waters in our souls shake and those things that have settled to the bottom are stirred up!  We say things and feel things that we might not have know were there.  Hidden fear, confusion and a long list of other unexpected responses can be stirred up when persecution enters the picture.  If that happens then take the opportunity to confess these feelings to God, repent and ask Him to help heal and cleanse.

So what happens in you when you hear news of terrorism or persecution and stop to think about it?  I've given you my list of thoughts and feelings that bubble up when I think about persecution.  What bubbles up in you?

1 comment:

  1. What bubbles up in me is sadness. I pray that God is glorified through these acts of persecution. I don't want to get complacent or lose focus on what we have been put on this earth for. Thank you for surrendering all and doing what your doing.