A Sudanese Christian boy has his knees and feet nailed to a board and he is left to die. When rescued he says he forgives the man who did this because Jesus was also nailed and forgave him.
A Vietnamese pastor is sentenced to two years in prison. When he is offered an early release, he declines stating that he has a group of new Believers in the prison he has to disciple.
A Colombian missionary is kidnapped and told she only has two hours to live. She tells her captors that if she only has two hours to live, she wants to spend it telling them about Jesus.
The persecution of Christians around the world is a tragic reality. Our brothers and sisters are beaten and tortured simply for their faith in Jesus Christ. And some pay with the ultimate price. However, in the midst of this persecution is some of the courageous stories of faith. ( credit: http://www.persecution.com)
This brief "article" mixed with over an hour of surfing the World Changers website last night has me asking this question:
What kind of Christian am I?
Am I a Sunday-morning Christian? Am I a Churchgoing, good person Christian? Am I a "I don't all those really bad things" Christian? Am I a Christian only by my words...and not my actions? Or am I a sold-out, unmovable, God-seeking, God-fearing, bold and committed Christian? One who lives for God alone; One who lives for His applause only, not the applause, praise, admiration, or acceptance of other people; A Christian who knows his/her place and gets IN it. Am I a devoted Christian? A disciplined Christian? A Christian who will not be shaken, moved or swayed by the world's loud appeals?
What kind of Christian am I?
Reading the above, I almost cried thinking, Goodness, do I have the kind of Godly, selfless love in me where I would instantly forgive someone who nailed my knees and feet to a board?
Do I have the kind of Christlike mindset where I would forsake the comfort of an early release, choosing to stay longer in a prison so as to lead more souls closer to Jesus?
Do I have the kind of unwavering faith in me, where when I am to die in two hours, my only thoughts are those of my captors' lost souls?
I'd like to stand up, raise my hand, and shout YES I DO! with a very big grin. But I don't think I do. I'm almost ashamed to say that if I had my feet and knees nailed to a board, I would be angry at my enemy, and would probably be filled with bitterness. If I was put in prison for my faith, then offered an early release, I would probably take it immediately and not give one thought of staying to disciple those in my cell. If I was kidnapped and told I would be killed in two hours, I would probably spend those two hours shaking with fear and praying to be delivered from such a fate! I would probably wonder why such things would fall upon me. I would probably wonder what I did to "deserve" such horrible treatment. I would probably doubt God. I would, more than likely, question His ways of running things. I may even doubt His love. I'm not sure what exactly I would do, how I would be or what I would think, but I'm afraid I may succumb to such selfish thinking. And I wonder, HOW could I think of myself? How could my thoughts be on me and my comfort INSTEAD of on the souls around me who are on their way to hell? Instead of on Jesus???
How could I even be so haughty and foolish to think and believe that I deserve better?! My goodness....did not nearly all the great followers of Jesus die horrible deaths? Flayed? Sawed in half? Crucified? Crucified upside down? Beaten? Stoned? Beheaded? Burned? Bound in chains and thrown into the sea?
And I dare to say I don't deserve persecution! I dare to say I don't deserve to live and/or die in "this" or "that" way.
God help me.....
I've read stories of Christian men and women around the world who were attacked, speared, forced to watch their families murdered in front of them, burned alive, raped, tortured, humiliated and viciously killed.
Here I am, in an air conditioned building. I have clothes and shoes. I spent an hour getting ready this morning (complete with shampoo, conditioner, makeup, hair gel, blowdryer, and perfume). I have plenty to eat! I can drive to my destinations. I can go to Church whenever I want and not have to wonder if I will be caught and killed for it. I am free. I can sing a gospel song loudly outside or leave my Bible in plain view in the car. I have friends. I have a wonderful family. I have a TV, a stereo, an iPod, a phone, a camera, a laptop, etc. I have so many "luxuries" and so many blessings....maybe too many. And yet, I sometimes complain about my persecution. Someone hurt my feelings. Someone spread rumors about me. Someone doesn't like me. Ah me, I am persecuted!
Although, it IS a form of persecution, it can't come close to the unimaginable horrors that Godly men and women - both young and old - are undergoing every day all around the world. And yet....when they are being beaten, burned, stoned, hanged or nailed to boards, they don't complain! Rather, they rejoice that they are counted worthy of such an honor! To be hurt and hated and despised....was not Christ? And they praise God for letting them be worthy enough to share such pain. They don't complain. They don't try to get even. They react in selfless love. They pray for their enemies. They pray for those that "despitefully use them" and they reach out to them, even when they are about to die.
What kind of Christian am I?
Am I bold about my faith? Do I put my God before ALL ELSE? Do my actions back up my words? Do I have a heavy burden for my friends, my coworkers, my family members - total strangers! - who are lost? Do I cry for them? Am I saddened when a Christian isn't living as he/she should? Am I brokenhearted when a lost person dies? Does any of it affect me at all? Do I have a desire to be close to God always? Am I ever satisfied with where I am in my walk, thinking I don't need to be any better? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to be the Christian God wants me to be? Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and forget about everything except what Christ wants of me?
Am I willing to die for my Savior? I would say yes, I am.
BUT, the bigger question is this:
Am I willing to LIVE for Him?
Not with words alone. Not with Church membership or Church attendance. Not with good intentions. But with the same passion as the greats. The same selfless love. The same perspective. The same mindset.
What kind of Christian am I? What kind of Christian are you?