Despite my comfort in the picture, my heart is also in great pain learning about and seeing evidence of the condition of the human spirit, and nothing is more horrific than the degree of persecution being faced by Christians throughout the world. Thousand upon thousands are being imprisoned, tortured and even murdered in many places: Africa, Asia, the Middle East and more and it is a continuation of the hate that has been around for the ages.
It's as if mankind's memory of the Holocaust of World War II, while still discussed as a major stain on history, has receded and the hatred that many have felt toward our Jewish brothers and sisters, much of which is ongoing, has also been transferred to Christians as well. And one of the saddest things about this to me, as an American, is that my own country and its government are ramping up the animosity against Christians as well.
Godless politicians and television personalities, including many news reporters, conveniently forget about the persecution of Christians when they discuss some of the horrific things going on in the world. The evidence is clear, however, that Christians are being killed in record numbers by forces of evil throughout the world. And now ridicule and persecution is gaining favor even here in the United States. Christians are being made fun of and ordinances changing rules that have allowed for freedom of religion are being implemented in traditional Christian communities by godless statists and appointed judges. Even our military chaplains are being told not to invoke the name of Jesus Christ under penalty of punishment and these items are just the tip of the iceberg. And the question must be asked: Are we Christians going to just sit silently by and watch this happen to others and to ourselves?
I've been reading the book Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Christian minister who died in 2001. Reverend Wurmbrand spent many years in prison, both under Nazi Germany and afterward under Communist Romania, for the sin of openly believing in and witnessing for Jesus Christ. In his book he details how the persecution began subtly, like what we see advancing in America, but eventually resulted in the Communists actually infiltrating the churches. Many men of the cloth ended up serving as spies for the Communists, providing information on their parishioners and identifying those who were particularly strong in their faith. Supposed leaders for Christ sold out to evil to protect themselves. And of even more shock was Wurmbrand's indictment of the World Council of Churches which he said actually knew what was happening and looked the other way.
I am embarking in my Sunday school class this morning to spend several months on the Book of Acts which depicts the early days of the Christian Church after the Ascension of Jesus. Wurmbrand's work is very timely, for many of the same things that he experienced happened to the early followers of Jesus. Persecution, torture, painful death: all of these things happened because men of power and privilege felt threatened by the love of Jesus Christ. They didn't believe in Him but they were very fearful of Him because they recognized the power that the Spirit had on believers and they wanted to destroy it. But despite their efforts, and the efforts by evil today, it will never be quashed, because those who truly believe know that it is "The Way, The Truth and The Life".
So I ask that all of my Christian brothers and sisters stand tall, speak up and never sacrifice the Gift of Jesus Christ for anything that this world has to offer. For worldly things go away upon death; you can't take them with you. But with the Love of Christ you will experience the joy of Life at His side forever.
Lord, Keep us strong of heart and Spirit and never let us falter in our love for and our faith in Thee. Remind us of the sacrifice that Thy Son made for us and make it ever present in out thoughts and actions for only through Him can we reach Thy table. And help us to continue to spread the Word to others so that they may glory in it's wonder and love as well. We ask in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.