1997-12-22 - 20th Century Persecution
John 15:20: If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you
The cover article in the New York Times Magazine yesterday, 12-21, is worth reading. It is titled, Washington Discovers Christian Persecution. What the article lacks in historical facts and data, it more than makes up for by raising some interesting and thought provoking questions. There has always been a problem documenting things like martyrdom. There is never anyone counting the bodies, or documenting the abuses when such things take place. Individuals, families, villages, or churches simply disappear. A single grave might contain one body or 100 and still, there is no one counting anyway. To highlight the importance of this issue today, the article reported that a senior fellow at the Institute of Christian Studies in Toronto estimates that in the last eight (8) years, 700,000 Christians have died at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists in Sudan. Martyrdom is nothing new for Christians. The very Lord we follow is a Martyr. Sometimes Martyrdom is a state imposed sanction, such as in the Roman Colosseum. Other times Christians kill each other. In Scotland (1660-1688) the Presbyterians were persecuted by the established Church of England and the issue was not doctrine, which they were in basic agreement on, but rather worship style. So many Presbyterians died that this time of history is known in Scotland as, “The Killing Times”. Martyrdom is nothing new for Christians living in a democratic society. To be a follower of Christ is to be a Martyr--no exceptions. Colossians 3:2, 3 “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Or as Paul says plainly, “I die daily”, 1 Corinthians 15:31. The Christian life is a struggle to die to self and live anew as those who seek the will of God and the glory of Christ. This is something that is done at a cost, and this cost is our lives. In dying to self we all are Martyrs. Our lives are no longer our own, but rather in coming to Christ in faith and repentance we freely lay down our lives on the alter of the Will of God and seek His glory, and His will instead of our own.
“From morning to night keep Jesus in your heart, long for nothing, desire nothing, hope for nothing, but to have all that is within you changed into the spirit and temper of the holy Jesus.” William Law
Soli Deo Gloria,