Sunday, May 10, 2015

Stand Up

Convert, Pay the Tax, Leave … or Die 

In northern Iraq, radical Muslims painted the Arabic letter ن, or “N,” (referring to the Nazarene...Jesus) on the homes and businesses of Christians. The property owners were publicly identified as Christ-followers, and yet they refused to deny their faith. A symbol of accusation became a mark of identity and commitment. 

Visit the Voice of the Martyrs for more information on how you can stand with the Persecuted Church around the World.

I've been thinking a lot about persecution these days, especially persecution that comes from sharing the gospel with people. 

Well actually I've been thinking more about the lack of persecution that many people face because they just fly under the radar and keep the "mystery of the gospel" exactly that...a mystery.

The more I think about the gospel the more I realize that because of Christ the mystery has been revealed and as Paul put it, "Christ in us the hope of glory" is the mystery. Hmm, once a mystery is revealed it's no longer a mystery is it? 

So, with that in mind I'm just doing some prayerful reflection on the correlation between sharing the gospel and being persecuted for it and not sharing the gospel and missing out on my purpose at least and participating in some grand "keep it hidden and just fit in" scheme at most.

When I think about all that Jesus went through for me to be able to have a relationship restoration with God words like "Excruciating pain", and "Unbearable grief" come to mind and it's interesting that when Paul gives a little Recap of what he incurred for the gospel He uses the equivalent of our word "stresses" to describe them, not anywhere close to what Jesus's suffering involved. That really got my attention and made me think about my perspective on things especially when I realize what my Savior went through for me.

Look at Paul's "stresses" that came upon him during his time as a believer in Jesus which was probably about 30 years or so...

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” 2 Corinthians 11:24-29

Hmm, "beaten with rods", "constant danger", "39 lashes" compared to the kind of persecution that I've received over the years of being a follower of Jesus (which is about 34 years) it doesn't even come close. Ridiculed, laughed at, and maybe gossiped about is pretty much the sum total to this point.

Now I'm not asking for more persecution that's for sure but I'm wondering if I'm actively seeking to share the gospel as I should and if I'm ready to face whatever may come my way when I do?

I think the church today needs to "Stand up" when it comes to shining the spotlight on our savior. I'm so glad He "stood up" to pay the price for my sin and I'm so glad early Christians like Paul, Peter, James, Andrew and John "stood up" and took the gospel to the ends of the earth where one day in 1981 I came face to face with the gospel message that Jesus loved me, died for me and had a gift for me if only I would accept it.

Are we willing to stand up for the gospel? That's the question!

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