I started a new book last night, “Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe” by Tom Doyle. Yes… The title is shocking… But I’m convinced we need to know what it means to persevere in faith. To love Jesus with full abandon NO.MATTER.THE.COST.
One of the most interesting facts that I’m learning from reading books like this, is where Christians are being persecuted for their faith – Christianity is spreading and thriving!
In places like the United States, where we have every freedom in the world, and virtually no persecution for our faith, (have you ever been persecuted for your faith in Jesus? I haven’t.) the spread of Christianity in the U.S. has plateaued at best.
What’s wrong with this picture?
One true story in this book recounts a Syrian Believer who along with several other Syrian brothers in Christ pooled their money together to buy a plot of land to bury each other in after their deaths. Because, they knew at some point they would all die for their faith. They believed their lives were in God’s hands, and resigned themselves to a violent death by shooting, beheading, or torturous crucifixion.
He says this, “There is remarkable freedom in having no expectations, no plans for tomorrow. The question I and many others start every day with is this: “Jesus, what do You have planned for me and my family?” Only today matters. Only how I live for Jesus counts. Everything else is superficial… Is your life about Jesus and nothing else? When you may die at any moment, it has to be that way, but we’re all called to live only for Him, no matter what.”
He goes on to say, “Pray for us in Syria but please do not feel bad for us. We have never been more free.”
One of the startling things I’ve noticed, as I’ve read these books on believers in persecuted countries is this: they don’t ask for prayer for deliverance from their persecution. Because – they know that through their persecution, God is glorified, and more will come to know Jesus personally. Over and over, I’m learning that these believers are asking for prayer to have strength to continue on in the faith boldly proclaiming Jesus as Savior and Friend. They don’t ask for an end to their suffering, but to endure.
What an example. Just think about that for a moment. There are believers in the Middle East, Africa, China, North Korea, and many more places in this world that have a faith I can’t even imagine having – but pray that maybe I would gain a few ounces of eventually! At least, that is the goal!
Maybe that’s why I love reading these books – they inspire me to look at my faith differently. To analyze and attempt (feebly) to imagine putting myself in their position and wondering – “what would I do?”
What would YOU do?
Persecution is not a pleasant thing to ponder, think about, or read about. But, I’m convinced, at least for myself, I need to read more about the “cost” of discipleship. What it truly means to love Jesus with absolutely EVERYTHING that I am. And be willing to GIVE everything to Him.
Pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world. There is real suffering. Real danger. Real persecution and torture.
Yet; there is REAL FREEDOM and REAL JOY that is only and always found in Christ. Pray for endurance, joy, and peace.
God bless your day!! Live inspired to love Him even more than you did yesterday!!! ❤