In the time it takes to read this post, another Christian
will be beaten or killed because of his or her faith in Jesus Christ. Around the world, 160,000 believers will be
slaughtered this year alone…simply because they love Jesus. This is not a news flash! The physical risk of going public for the
glory of God among
satanically dominated peoples is obvious.
On July 29, 2016, Pastor Yohan Maraiah was mercilessly
beaten to death in the eastern Godavari district of India’s state of Andhra
Pradesh. This was not the first time
this pastor had been targeted. He has
suffered several attacks and had his church torched more than once.
In many regions nationalist Hindus enjoy popular
and bureaucratic support in their campaign to make India a purely Hindu
And in Vietnam a believer was severely beaten a local
police officer in the first week of July.
The officer came with about 20 other young men with clubs and
knives. They came after him and shouted
that he follows Jesus, and beat him until they thought he was dead. These are only two of the thousands of
examples of the severe persecution going on around the world.
Worship is a very risky activity for them. But we admire them for taking the risk. Why do you think they take that risk?
What would you say
about a group of believers that moved their worship out of suburban safety and
into a neighborhood plagued by drug abuse and burglaries? Not just as an outreach, but as a full-time ministry. They take it for granted their building will
be broken into and equipment stolen.
Would you consider them foolish, or bad stewards? Would you call these believers fanatics? Why do they take the risk?
Whether they are in Pakistan or the United States, these
risk-taking Christians seem to be living by a different set of rules. I would suggest that they are simply taking
their calling seriously. Why should it
be any different for us?
As a believer, Jesus predicted that you will be attacked like
a lion eats a lamb. He warned us to, “Be
self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring
lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) That’s the risk of identifying with Jesus in
this world; and too many are frightened at the thought.
Scripture describes the killing of God’s people as
horrible, yet beautiful. Horrible
because of the great suffering endured by so many; but beautiful in their
humble Christ-likeness as they are afflicted, persecuted, struck down, but not
destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4) When believers
are crushed by suffering, the aroma of Christ flows out even more widely and
rapidly among the peoples.
This is biblical boldness; to plow through hostile
resistance with the gentleness of Christ, and loving the hate out of the
enemies of the cross. However, I dread a
greater danger than death. I dread the
consequences of not taking a risk for the gospel, but instead staying safely in
my comfort zone. What will I suffer if I
refuse to suffer for Christ? What will I
lose if I refuse to lose my life for Jesus and for the nations? What glory (Paul’s word, Romans 8:18) will I
miss out on if I avoid suffering for the gospel?
There is something in suffering for the gospel, which
produces supernatural love and compassion within you toward those wanting to
harm you. At the same time, when one can
praise God instead of denying Him in the middle of suffering, unbelievers take
notice. Some will be saved, which causes
more persecution, which will fuel even more passionate and bold sharing of the
gospel. The result is that whole new
regions are quickly populated with new believers and churches.
This is how suffering and persecution nearly
always advances both personal spiritual growth in the sufferer, and the more
rapid, wide-ranging growth of the gospel among the persecutors.
There is nothing more powerful in evangelism than a life
humbly laid down for Christ and the gospel.
Gospel risk-takers are “crazy for Christ” missionaries. (2 Corinthians
11:23) But God is glorified by them; and
the world’s unharvested fields need many more like them.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses,
in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak,
then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Can God change
God has made it
possible for you to know Him, and experience an amazing
change in your own
Discover how you
can find peace with God.
Reproduced with permission from Russ Sharrock.