Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
Hebrews 13:3 (NLT)
The fact that we have Christian brothers and sisters who are being mistreated, tortured and even imprisoned should not surprise us in the least. Anyone who takes the time to read the Book of Acts and has any understanding of history since that time can see that the persecution of Christians was definitely alive and well. What makes us think it has gone away? Is it because you yourself are not experiencing it?
In Acts 4, Peter and John were imprisoned after the healing a lame man outside of the Temple. They were released the next day but warned not to teach or speak in the name of Jesus at all. They replied:
Which is right in God's eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.
Acts 4:19-20 (NLT)
How would you have replied?
Peter and John as well as the other believers knew these were not idle threats being made against them. In addition to the Apostles, there were other believers who had witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus which had taken place outside that very city just a short time ago. They knew that they might have to pay for their faith with their lives... and they were willing to do so. Are you?
We don't want to talk about persecution in our churches today. We prefer to hear about how much wealth and comfort we can accumulate in this world. These words of Jesus are rarely preached or even spoken of:
Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.
Matthew 24:9 (NLT)
It is time for those of us who do not face physical persecution to quit living in "La-La Land". A quick and simple search on the internet will bring you into contact with stories of Christian persecution (from both Christian and secular sources) in about 10 seconds or less. If you are uncertain about what is legitimate and what is not, pray that the Holy Spirit guides you to the right sources. If nothing else, accept the fact that we have brothers and sisters who are paying a tremendous cost for following Jesus and spreading the Gospel and pray for them! You might not know who they are but God does.
God has allowed us "freedom" for a reason. For now, many of us have the freedom to spread the Gospel. Are we? We also have been blessed with resources that enable us to bring help and comfort to those enduring persecution and their families. Are we sharing them with the "Suffering Church"?
We must not forget about our suffring brothers and sisters. They are also a part of the Body of Christ.
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[quote]We don't want to talk about persecution in our churches today. We prefer to hear about how much wealth and comfort we can accumulate in this world. These words of Jesus are rarely preached or even spoken of:
[blockquote]Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.
Matthew 24:9 (NLT) [/blockquote]
[quote][b]It is time for those of us who do not face physical persecution to quit living in "La-La Land". [/b]
Indeed it is!
Several years ago, the Lord placed a burden upon my heart for those suffering from physical persecution, and I'm still privileged to carry that burden to this day; and I must tell you, dear friend, that your blog regarding these sufferings is of the utmost importance for we, as Christians, cannot allow the deception of our comfort zones to trick us in to thinking that life -- as it is at the present moment -- is "all" about us. We were created to serve God, and part of His will for us is to "watch and pray" for our brothers and sisters in Christ in whatever circumstances they are in. And I tell you, my heart aches when I think of, hear, or see some of the ways they are persecuted, especially in the hard labor camps. They "need" our prayers in ways that are unimaginable to us.
Thank you so much for this most excellent and much needed blog. Blessings!
[quote]The other thing I have come across within the past couple of years absolutely horrified me. I have heard it suggested that these precious brothers and sisters must have done something wrong and God is punishing them or... they shouldn't have broken the "laws" which prohibit them from sharing the Gospel with others, teaching their own children about God, gathering together for prayer and studying God's Word or even having a Bible or verses in their possession![/quote]
[b]Yes[/b], this kind of shallow thinking is much more commonplace than it should be... and it is horrifying. These precious ones, as you have written, "deserve our love, prayers, and support." I agree, too, that it's easy to think that it will not happen here, but this kind of evil can slip in at anytime.
Blessings to you!