As story after story of Christian persecution in the middle East fill my Facebook newsfeed with the heartache of what it means to die for Christ, I can’t help but get angry, sad, and even vengeful.
In an effort to prevent my own tears I decide to scroll past some of these stories only to be bombarded with the news that the UN has adopted yet another resolution against Israel. And again the feelings of rage swell up inside.
In yet another attempt at distracting myself from the goings on of our obviously not-so-christian western governments, and to try and retain some semblance of normalcy in my life I often opt instead to watch TV, Netflix actually.
Still, even in the solace of my own home, binge watching Netflix original series during the Christmas break, the reminders that Christian values are being shoved out the door are just to blatant to be ignored.
Even when the producers of a show decide to use the word ‘Christian’ they do it in a way that mocks it, instead of being truthful about it.
There used to be a theory among some Christian circles that the media and Hollywood had conspired together to create subliminal messages to get those watching to denounce Christ and choose instead to be a zombie for the up and coming one world government.
I used to laugh at these theories.
Now, I would say they’ve done away with subliminal messages and are coming right out and saying it: “Christianity is a joke and it needs to be eradicated” is their message, and to spread it they use the media, Hollywood, western governments and the UN.
Like in the days of Nero feeding Christians to the lions so it is right now for Christians around the world. So I ask,
What have you done?
For all the talk and complaining of being persecuted, there is almost nothing being done to counter the persecution. And I don’t mean by our governments, I mean by us, the ones being persecuted.
By focusing on where and how we are being persecuted we put the focus of the mission on us. Instead of on Jesus where it should be. The more we cry about our own suffering the less the gospel gets around.
The persecution is real, and it needs to be addressed. But if we turn our suffering into an idol we’ll end up being martyrs without a cause.
Another year over…
As 2016 comes to an end, and thousands of Christians who have died in war torn countries we need to reflect back and remember those who gave up their lives for Jesus. We needn’t though dwell on the fact that they’re dead, rather on why they’re dead.
I won’t go through them all because there are many thousands of them, but I do want to touch on just a few.
A father and his twelve year old son were arrested for being Christian. They were interrogated for hours, beaten, mocked and then placed before a ‘court’ where they were told to denounce Christ or die. They refused. Then the boy was placed in front of his father where their accusers told the father that if he alone denies Jesus they could both live. Again the father refused. They proceeded to cut off the boys fingertips in front of his father who was forced to watch in horror. After refusing to deny Jesus several more times the father and his son were taken to be crucified. They died there several hours later and their bodies left hanging.
A group of Christians were arrested and taken to a remote area where they were told to convert back to Islam or die. They were forced to kneel and one by one beheaded for believing that Jesus is the Messiah. Just before one of them died she was seen looking up to the heavens and almost smiling in anticipation of meeting Jesus.
Three men who recently converted to Christianity were shot in the back of the head as they knelt and declared that they would never abandon Jesus – the one true Lord and Savior. Three more recent converts were then forced to kneel in front of these dead bodies and told to repent of Jesus, when they declined they too were shot and killed.
There are thousands of stories like this that include children and women, stories far more horrific that will bring you to your knees. You can read them at The Voice of the Martyrs website and at OpenDoorsUSA.
As I mentioned already we never want to make suffering the focus rather we want to make Jesus the focus and the suffering and persecution we endure can be a witness to those who inflict it.
A new one just begun
When 2017 starts and we make resolutions that we all know will be long forgotten come March, maybe we should try instead to resolve to be more like Christ. And I don’t mean a half hearted effort that gets pushed to the back burner after it gets hard, I mean an all in give-it-all-ya-got commitment to the One who gave us His all. Not because of the reward in Heaven waiting for us but because Jesus is worth it! Maybe I’m a dreamer but I think that if we all truly gave ourselves to Him, the persecution suffered by our brothers and sisters in Christ would be minimized and the gospel – sent!
I Hope It’s A Good One, Without Any Fear.