This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Extreme Devotion, compiled by Voice of the Martyrs. In the following short quotation from William Barclay (from The Daily Study Bible), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
It is not until a man finds his faith opposed and attacked that he really begins to think about the implications of that faith. It is not until the church is confronted with some dangerous heresy that she begins to realize the riches and wonder of orthodoxy. It is characteristic of Christianity that it has inexhaustible riches, and that it can always produce new riches to meet any situation."
A moment of introspection: In these end days, many foes would seek and work to overthrow God's Church on this earthly orb. Those of Satan would destroy the fabric of the Church via the Emergent Church movement; he would distract the faithful through Christian Yoga, New Age, and other debasements of Christianity. Around the world, the Unification Church has wooed Christians away from the Church, and the Maitreya is among a growing cadre of those claiming to be "the Christ". Churches around the world must minister in an environment establishing the one-world religion, and the one-world government has now arisen and been operating for a year already (depending on who one talks to).
According to the current president, the United States is no longer a Christian nation. His administration courts Islam, staffs itself with self-avowed Communists, woos the gays and seeks to loose them on unsuspecting churches through ENDA legislation, opens the floodgates to millions of illegal immigrants and grants them benefits which heretofore were only offered to citizens of the United States, and has instituted virtual strip searches of all air travelers except those who intend to do harm to this country. Over and over again, the rights of Christians have been and are being marginalized, and references to our sovereign God are increasingly being expunged from the public eye.
But in these days, as Barclay has stated, opposition to Christ makes clear the implications of our faith when our faith in Christ is opposed and attacked. The persecuted church has repeatedly shown that pastors who are imprisoned find the incarceration actually strengthens their faith in Jesus Christ. Christians around the world have come to understand the unparalleled value of suffering in understanding Jesus and His message of hope, of power, and of purpose. Christians around the world find that opposition to the message of Christ yanks them from within their comfort zone to face hardship and suffering, honing and tempering. From this experience come Christians who say "I will kiss the rope, but I will never deny my Lord" (Tahir Iqbal, Pakistani Christian martyr) and "I would rather be hung than deny my Lord." (Saleema - a nineteen-year-old Christian in Pakistan, who has been severely persecuted for her faith)
We are the people who, today, Christ is addressing with His perfect words - "Remember the words I spoke to you (in ): 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." () and in : "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." In this world of increasing opposition to Christ and His message, we His people MUST learn from our persecuted brethren. If we are to understand the implications of our own faith, we must move beyond our comfort zone to help the Holy Spirit bring a lost, perverse and dying world to the love of God through Jesus Christ. As perhaps never before, with persecution present or coming, we are called to be God's people for such a time as this: to remain true to God's revelation, obedient to His Son, and responsive to His Holy Spirit. Recognize and know the enemy of God; discern his ways. Resist and stand firm in belief. If you have read "The Screwtape Letters" (C.S. Lewis), you may have a sense of the workings of the fallen one. If you haven't, I would recommend "Lord Foulgrin's Letters: How to Strike Back at the Tyrant by Deceiving and Destroying His Human Vermin" (by Randy Alcorn, ISBN 1-57673-679-2, available through www.foulgrin.com, or www.multnomahbooks.com, or other retailer).