This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Antonio Garrido (Cuban Christian), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
The church in Cuba has gone through many times of persecution during the last three decades.
Sometimes the enemy of God's people confronted us face to face. Sometimes the battle was more subtle, when they disguised themselves and infiltrated our churches as wolves in sheep's clothing. But they failed. We knew their plans. They tried to discourage God's people through loss of jobs, loss of education and other privileges. They infiltrated the minds of our children with diabolical materialism. But in all these things they failed.
Despite these trials and tribulations, the Church of God remained; alive, growing and full of power. If God is for us--who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
A moment of introspection: These days, the whole world is a-buzz with worried talk about financial throes that embroils all (or at least many) of the nations of the earth at this time. Antonio would ask, in these troubled monetary days--as Christians, what can separate us from God's love for us? The apostle Paul, in his address to the church in Rome, even said to us in the approach of persecution in our beloved land of America, that God's love will not be abated by persecution or suffering that comes to our shores, our communities, and our homes (Romans 8:35). The operant phrase used by Senor Garrido in his first sentence, was "The Church in Cuba has gone through..." Was the Cuban church eradicated by God's enemies? No! Repeatedly, overseas reports convey the vitalization of God's church as it experiences travail; persecution enlivens God's Church. A now-famous statement still seems to hold true: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Suffering by the church leads to triumph through Christ. Despite insult, lies, threats, physical attacks, deceitful and calculated assaults against the Cuban church, "the Church of God remained: alive, growing and full of power." Voices saying that this cannot be true, averring that the church cannot withstand (and flourish under) such conditions--have time and time again been silenced as God proves them wrong.
How did the church in Cuba stand firm under duress? They trusted in God, they knew their foe and his wiles/plans; they supported each other when the enemy deprived them of jobs, education and other privileges. They learned how to resist the psychological ploys of their antagonists, and kept their children from infiltration of their minds "with diabolical materialism." How is our church doing at protecting its members in this way, or a similar way? Society wars against God and His Church on earth at this time. Sometimes the war is subtle. Sometimes it is more flagrant. Its aim, as a tool of the Prince of the air, is to deprive it of its God-given hope and future. If our churches are not building their members up in preparation for not only financial hardship but overt persecution as it nears, we should be asking our church leaders to rouse us from our habitual complacency and lead church members in preparation to stand against the enemy of God. Paul the apostle also revealed to us that God has not given us a spirit of fear (Romans 8:15), that we should approach financial hardship or spiritual opposition from the evil one with any fear or trepidation. This is a time for trusting God and taking Him at His Word.