2017-01-31 - How Far Would We Go for Our Faith
It is a surprise to many people, to find that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, this per 2016 statistics. I don't mean the kind of "persecution" that we in the US face, such as being yelled at by a teacher simply for bringing a Bible into a classroom, as happened to me in the 9th grade, or jokes about us on no-longer-funny television shows which stoop to low comedy. I mean being in danger of torture or loss of life. Millions are unable to express their faith openly, as are daily able to do. I was thankful for the answer to prayer that our country will soon be doing more to help persecuted Christians, because more than 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2016, which equates to the death of one Christian every six minutes. 27,000 Christians were killed in terror attacks last year. Would we give up our lives for our faith?
When one watches the news, it is obvious that we live in a world where many feel they don't have to follow laws that are for everyone's protection. They don't feel they have to submit. But some other faiths set stellar examples for those of us who are Christ-followers. Consider the Orthodox Jews. For example, what if we had to ask permission to get in our cars and drive on the Sabbath? Orthodox Jews such as Ivanka Trump, First Daughter, have to do that, and in fact she and her husband had to get a pass, just to go to the Inauguration on the Sabbath. People of the Orthodox Jewish faith give up a lot of their individual freedom, to follow their faith.
Thinking about this led me to wonder, what are we Christians willing to give up for our faith? Thankfully, our faith is not legalistic; in fact, Christ often combated legalism. And for most of us in the US, we likely will not be asked to give up our lives for our faith. Of course, the good news for us is that for us, our values should be Heavenly-driven, and any Earthly losses will be outshined by the more important, eternal Heavenly gains. In fact, both Christ and the Apostle Paul encouraged us to live sacrificial lives:
Matthew 16:25-26 (MSG) Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
I love this version of Romans 12:1-2, via The Message:
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
To coin a 70s phrase, doesn't that "tell it like it is?" Wow.
Indeed, sometimes we do face certain "sacrifices" if we are to remain true to Christ. So - just exactly what are we willing to give up? How far would we go? If we find that we must compromise our beliefs in order to perform our job duties, will we give up our lucrative job, for a lower-paying one? If our favorite television show denigrates our Lord or our faith, will we stop watching it and let the sponsors know that we are no longer going to buy their products? If our church hires a pastor who is not faithful to God's word but instead preaches "health and wealth" or another heretical doctrine, will we pull up stakes and find a Biblical church to attend?
I would love to hear about your experiences of having to give something up for your faith in Christ.
Janice P. Moser