The Persecuted, part 1

Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing right,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10

Let me state up front that there are millions of persecuted Christians around the globe. We must be conscious of our brothers and sisters who are not allowed the freedom to assemble, to pray, to worship, or to hold a Bible in their hands. They face death simply because they believe in and express their faith in Jesus Christ. There are also still too many women and children forced into the sex slave trade. I have listed ways at the end of this post to step up and support adults and children in persecuted or impoverished areas. I’ll write more about those brothers and sisters next week.

This week, please – please – reach out. Please have one less latte’, one less fast food dinner, one less anything. It can mean food, fresh water, a microloan, a schoolbook, shelter, rescue – it can mean hope. See the end of this post; click one of the links. Act now!

©rakratchada torsap freedigitalphotos.net

©rakratchada torsap
freedigitalphotos.net

 

This post is about those of us living in areas free to worship, who are wondering what it means to live as committed followers of Christ, who are on a quiet quest to discover what it means personally, relationally, intimately. It is for those of us who have been told the gospel means one thing, had it wrapped up in a pretty box tied up with ribbon, and placed it on a shelf. It is for those of us who want to be released from the bondage that ribbon has created.

The gospel embraces both sides of the grave. Richard Foster

This is what most of us think the gospel means:

  1. We are chosen, saved and forgiven.
  2. We get to go to heaven when we die.
  3. John 3:16

Other than those three things, we go about our daily lives pretty much as we did before. We believe in Jesus. We’re thankful that we’re going to heaven. Every once-in-a-while, we rant against the government. Or we rant against those who rant against the government.

I learned from Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan, and verified on Biblegateway.com, that in the gospels, Jesus tells us to believe in him fewer than half a dozen times. He tells us to follow him more than twenty times.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

What does, “take up his cross daily,” mean?

It’s a radical call to commitment. It’s living for the kingdom. It’s the dying to self the apostle Paul wrote about:

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

Ephesians 4:20-24 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

Philippians 2:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Colossians 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

God wants us to make Him known. Not His rules, but Himself.

Each of us is a missionary for God. Missionaries are not just people who travel to other countries to evangelize and convert. Everywhere we look in the Bible, God uses people to carry out His mission – bringing all of creation to Himself.

God used Moses free the slaves in Egypt, and sent him to speak to Pharaoh on His behalf. (Exodus 3:9-10) The Holy Spirit used Philip to explain the gospel to an Ethiopian court treasurer. (Acts 8:26-39) He used Ananais to take the scales from Saul’s eyes, and allow him to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:10-19) Thereafter, He used Saul – the apostle Paul – to be His light to the gentiles.

morning

We are all lamps for God’s light. Some of us provide light where we work. Others provide light in our homes. Still others write or teach, garden or build, crunch numbers or create.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

To make a commitment, we have to be willing to rid ourselves of the ribbon of safety, unwrap the box of comfort, discover and take a stand for what Jesus means by following Him. It means missional living, even if we might be persecuted by our families, by our coworkers, by our friends.

It means following Jesus not just at church on Sundays, but also Monday-Friday at work, at school, with our children, with our parents or teachers, in meetings, at the grocery store, in traffic, waiting in line, cooking dinner, or helping our kids with homework.

It means following Jesus on Saturday when we’re at a game, on a date, out to dinner, meeting with friends, in a bar, texting, on social media, at the gym, or alone deciding what book to read, what movie to watch or what to watch on tv.

For now, just know – like it or not – it means more than you going to heaven.

LISTED ALPHABETICALLY

Compassion International www.compassion.com

Destiny Rescue http://www.destinyrescue.org/us/

International Justice Mission http://www.ijm.org/

Liberty in North Korea http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/

Live58 www.live58.org

Living Water International http://www.water.cc/

Open Doors USA https://www.opendoorsusa.org/

Red Window Project www.redwindow.org

UNICEF End Trafficking http://www.unicefusa.org/mission/protect/trafficking/end

Voice of the Martyrs https://www.persecution.com/

World Food Programme, http://www.wfp.org/

World Vision www.worldvision.org

Next Week: Part 2 – God’s Mission

www.marmarthunder.wordpress.com

20 comments

  1. Love this!
    ALL IN!!
    That is all. My heart is bursting!

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  2. Excellent post Susan! It’s amazing how I sit and ponder on things and God will send me at the right place at the right time to reveal an answer to my curiosity. Last week during my reading and meditation in chapter one of the book of Philippians as I read about missionaries, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people truly are willing to reach out, support, help, and pray for missionaries who spread the gospel no matter the cost. And here I stumble upon your post today that confirms there are still people in the world like you who care and are committed to God with random acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, putting the needs of others before themselves as you did with this beautiful post, compelling others to act. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, sister. As James said, “Faith without works is dead.” We must believe, but our belief must lead us to follow.

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  3. great post with a lot of food for thought, Looking forward to part II.

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    1. Thank you so much, Elaine. Bless you for “staying tuned.”

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  4. Following Christ, being Christ-like in all words and deeds. How much better this world would be if all of us adhered to this admonition! It is easy to say we do, much harder to act on it, until we recognize that when we do, our life seems to go better, the path seems straighter and the alternate behavior feels wrong faster and thus is avoided more often. Thank you for this reminder.

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    1. Yes, all of that! We must make the commitment to be followers. It’s a lifelong commitment but as you said, each day it becomes easier until it becomes natural.

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  5. Pondering … And waiting for Part II. Thank you, you are stirring stuff inside.

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    1. Oh, good! I delight in your pondering, Paul. 🙂

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  6. Excellent commentary on the commitment required to truly follow the Christian life, Susan. It must be embodied in all that ones does (and does not!), not just during an hour in church every Sunday morning.

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    1. Thanks, Nav. Part of the whole looking at splinters philosophy. We have to be willing to look at our own logs. But you know that ol’ river in Egypt seems to get in the way! 😉

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  7. Amen. As you listed, some of the things we do because of Christ aren’t always in the “big” recognizable things but rather those things that we do because of our relationship to Him like censoring those things that would be displeasing to Him and standing up for what we believe in spite of the worldly repercussions. There is a lot of persecution against Christians everywhere

    Your post makes me sit and ponder all that I can change to be better. Thank you, dear friend.

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    1. Thank you Dale, as always for stopping by. You’re always a welcome guest in my blogging living room.

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  8. Very nice and thoughtful post Susan. Thank you for it!!!

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    1. I pray it is understood, Levi.

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      1. Susan, the message should ring loud and clear. May the Spirit of God use your words to call many to pick up their cross and follow Him. I familiar with some of these organizations and have worked with a couple of them. Good post!

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  9. Excellent post and words we all need to hear.

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    1. It really is about all of creation. If we substitute doctrinal belief for belief in God, we’re lost. Thank you for your comment.

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