Like many of my fellow Christian believer brothers and sisters, I’ve been thinking a lot about persecuted Christians and especially those 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded by ISIS Islamist extremists recently.
Religious people killing other religious people. It’s nothing new.
It has been a while since we’ve seen this recent wave of barbaric means, however. The majority of the world is civilized. The majority of us don’t “get it”. It’s hard for us to even process. So that isn’t even what I’ve been thinking most about lately.
Serving Christ as a missionary and losing your life is something I’m familiar with. The story of Jim Elliot comes to mind and his four Evangelical companions (Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and Nate Saint). All missionaries who were killed by the Auca Indians of Ecuador on January 8, 1956. It’s a powerful story, if you’ve never read about it. Jim’s young wife, Elisabeth and 1-year-old daughter stayed in Ecuador for two years beyond his death ministering to the people of that area. They had a powerful impact.
What keeps coming back to me is this: do I have what it takes to literally put my neck on the line for my Savior?
Of course, I hope I do. I feel like I do but I realize until I am put in a situation like that, I would not really know for sure. A news story in June 2013 stated that it is estimated that 100,000 Christians worldwide are violently killed because of their faith every year. Two-hundred million Christians around the world live under persecution. Every. Single. Day.
I think about what choosing death for Christ over life would mean…
I would give up a future with my husband and children and, hopefully, eventual grandchildren and watching them live their faith out. A future with my parents, in-laws, and key aunts and uncles as they age. A future of standing side-by-side with my siblings when my parents are safely in the arms of their Savior. A future of seeing nieces and nephews marry and have families. Most importantly, I would give up a future of continuing to share Christ with those around me in meaningful and small ways.
But then I think about what I would forfeit by not standing firm in my faith.
Eternity is a very, very long time. I am not ashamed to proclaim that I am looking forward to it. And all these relatively short days on earth that I’ve missed being with family on holidays, wanting to have Sunday coffee with my sister, shopping with my daughters, playing games and watching movies with those I love…I have this blessed assurance. Most of those people will be right there with me for all of eternity. That is beyond comforting and I look forward with anticipation and excitement to share it with them all. I am certain they feel the same.
Mark 13:13 states, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved”. This was a real issue for early followers of Christ and it remains a real issue, as we continue to witness Islamic extremists who not only hate Christians and Jews, but are determined to kill us for what they feel is righteous.
But this daily fear and persecution is not something that the fluffy-feel-good American Christian believer has to deal with. We are fortunate to have multiple Bibles on our shelves. We don’t have to keep one copy hidden and in secret like many around the world. We talk openly and freely and throw around phrases like, “Have a blessed day!” to each other in normal conversation. Like so many other things that the rest of the world encounters, in this country, we really have no clue what it means to suffer for our faith. It’s easy. Too easy. And we get lazy.
Oh sure…we might get a snarky Facebook post from a non-believing or supposed atheist friend occasionally. Big deal. A war of words. That is not what God has called us here for. Stop wasting time.
Let me ask you this, fellow Christ follower: Why are you here?