Today's Message: Is Persecution the Antidote to Apathy?
The collective world has watched in horror as groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terror groups have systematically persecuted Christians in Iraq, Syria and areas of Africa. We have watched as Iraqi Christians are expelled from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back under the threat of death, and some yet are martyred for their faith. There can be no doubt that God's creation is groaning.
God is not caught by surprise, and while the events of today are disconcerting and upsetting, Jesus forewarned us that such things will occur many times in His Word. But even when we try and rely on Him for strength, it proves difficult.
I recently watched a news report of a community of Yazidi men and women who were fleeing from ISIS in Iraq. One man in particular was caught with a Gideon New Testament in his pocket and in an act of divine intervention, was let go. He fled to the mountains with other of his kin and a news crew interviewed him there.
The man loudly sobbed as he clutched his Bible and prayed, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."
In this instance, he was not praying for his family, he was not praying for his community. He was praying for his enemies. His prayer broke my heart. Not just because of all of the suffering this man and his people are going through, but because I have to admit that I am not at a spiritual point in my life where I could pray for the people who persecuted me and my family in such harsh ways. I would demand justice.
But there is another thing that I thought of as I watched this man praying with such fervor for his enemies. I realized that not only am I not in a spiritual closeness to God that would cause me to pray for my enemies, but I live every day of my life with far more apathy than I should have.
If you are like me, you find yourself in that boat too. We get up in the morning and eat, take a shower, get ready for work and rush out the door. We drive, talk, plan, type, call and do all of the things we do in a routine day. We may or may not have time for God, His Word, His Son or a conversation with Him. And when Sunday rolls around we are more concerned about the dinner that we are having after church than we are about the spiritual food we will consume at church.
Why are we as believers in our country so apathetic? Do you think it is because we face relatively little persecution in our own country than our brothers and sisters do in far away reaches? What would it take to bring the church of today in the USA around to be living, vibrant, active and absolutely on fire for the Living God?
Romans 8:35-37 says: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."
My friends, be bold! Pray for our brothers and sisters AND our enemies. Rise to the occasion and realize that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!