IS, not iPhones.
rin, our student ministry, chips in with this blog to shake the complacent. One good blog deserves another, so I will follow it with a companion piece. Thanks Erin!
Some mornings, when I feel as if I can bear the inevitable sadness, I open the paper to the World News section while I have my breakfast. Have you read about the persecuted church lately? The Sydney Morning Herald is printing articles on churches being burnt down in China as the communist government cracks down on growing numbers of Christians, tearing down crucifixes and arresting pastors and elders. Islamic State (IS) is executing Christians across the Middle East. Sometimes it makes the front page of the paper, other times you’ll find it on page 14 of the ‘World News’ section.
How does it make you feel, opening the paper and reading of children being crucified in the streets for their faith? Of honor killings for those who convert to Christianity? You may not be willing to lay down your life for faith; but what of freedom? Freedom of speech, freedom of religion? Freedom to read uncensored material without being imprisoned? That is something the West cares deeply about; “we are individuals,” we all chant together and we are free in this autonomy. We may hate what certain (unnamed) politicians have to say, but we will defend their right to say it.
Jesus died to set us free. He calls us to follow Him but what does that mean when church is just another option, and pretty far down the list on a Sunday that is sacred for football and sun-worshippers down at the beach? It doesn’t cost us to go or not go. We can speak or not speak of our beliefs, but better not, for fear of offending someone who holds a different belief. We have such freedom to read our Bibles that most of us choose not to, most of the time.
The challenge in the West is that we are more in love with life than Jesus and that makes us not only unwilling to die for Him, but to live for Him, either.
Have you ever thought about what church looks like in another country?
What it would look like to risk everything, for simply following Jesus?
The CEO of Open Doors spoke about smuggling bibles into countries, in packages that looked like they were trying to smuggle in drugs and praying; “You make blind eyes see, now make seeing eyes blind.” On the other side, his contact told him that the safe house was no longer safe and he was on lock-down, a target for kidnapping. Still, the church worshipped together, dropping their voices when they thought that they may have been heard. If they were discovered, they would have been arrested. Going to church costs Christians dearly in these places, it is something that they place their lives on the line for. It is not something they can afford to be blasé about.
Church leaders in these countries showed astounding faith in the midst of such persecution. One told him that he would rather have IS than an iphone because what is the greater danger to our faith – one is driving us to God and one is pulling us away.
Where has our boldness for Christ gone? When did we stop being willing to live and to die for Him?
Families in Iraq have lost everything for Jesus; some have been refugees for 10 years for His name’s sake. They know what a cost there is to faith. They know what it is to bless those who persecute them as they ask that we pray for IS to be saved. We need to pray for those who suffer at their hands and we need to draw closer to Christ, to remember what it is to have this courage in our faith. Because Jesus died for you, me & IS.
Fear drives consumption so let’s take the time, when we open the paper over breakfast, to question the fear of Islam that this country plays into. How do we show the love that led Jesus to die for IS? Our brothers and sisters are living and dying for the same faith that we claim and they find the grace to pray for those who persecute them.
A church leader in China asked him to pray for persecution to never to leave China because look what happens when faith hits materialism. It did not take long for the church in the West to get so focused in playing with the blessings of God that we didn’t even realize that Jesus has left the building.
How are churches in the West worshipping God, glorifying his name, taking up their cross and following Him? Are we being God’s light to the nations? Or are we living in the glow reflected off our iphone screens? Do we have the kind of faith it takes to pray for those who persecute us?
Open Doors is asking that the church in the West invest its resources to;
Subscribe to the survival of the church
-it costs $50 to feed a family of five in Iraq for a month
-the same as it costs for your phone bill
-so pray, give & go