Believers must consider the issues of being salt and light in a pagan culture who refuses to claim Christ as Lord.
The Words of Jesus demand our complete response to the Gospel. The temptation is often reducing the call to something easier and more comfortable. We don’t really want to give up the world’s system for all that the Kingdom of God declares to be true.
It’s imperative as disciples that we fully understand that Jesus is Lord, not a political leader–not a nation or a political party. We’ve become citizen’s of something that is superior to a patriotic physical reality. We don’t fit. (Philippians 3:20 and Ephesians 2:19.)
Steps to faithful living as we seperate ourselves from the World’s way of doing things really must be considered:
In order to do this must make the choice:
- To be true. Endure. Continue to pray and witness. Be faithful to Him.
- To be prayerful. At least working on it. I know prayer is supremely powerful, linking my inadequacy with God’s capability.
- To be joyful. Sing often. Thanksgiving all the time. Our tormentors hate joyful hearts. It seems to disturb the darkness that is part of sin and rebellion.
- To be real. Being faithful to Jesus. No lies, no illusions. Every aspect of our lives is to be the truth. We understand that Jesus is alive, and He is Lord.
- To be giving. Time or talent, it’s a stringent test of a believer’s maturity. Money is secondary. We serve Jesus with an open hand.
- To be convinced. We need to become fully convinced of the message of the gospel, and to be sure of His love. Not easy, but always needful.
In the time of ancient Rome, Christians were in the limelight, it seems, but only as martyrs. Believers made a definite decison to die rather than renounce their faith. Often faithfulness was especially hard–one had to count a cost to follow.
It’s good to understand the world never burned a casual Christian at the stake.
The lions in the Coliseum made quick work of the Christian’s faith. Thousands of believers were burned at the stake. But these martyrs succeeded in reaching many by their witness, and a pagan empire was brought to Christ, en masse!
Someone said that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
Perhaps martyrdom will be our path to reach America with the Gospel. The New Testament word for “witness” is martyr. It very well may be that our blood will be the seed for a new generation of believers. It should come as no surprise.
I preached once on the UC Berkeley campus. It’s a challenging place; a condensed stronghold of a godless ‘intellectualism’ (if you can imagine that). There is always a few people that for the most part bright and engaging.
But as I got ready to leave, I met a university professor. He looked at me in his tweed jacket and sweater vest and said something I will never forget. “Too bad we can’t feed you to the lions”. That’s all he said. When he spoke to me it was was a flat-calm statement–terse, cold and frightening–it was eerie and quite weird– mostly because I knew he meant it.
In this ‘enlightened’ campus, there was a coldness–a hatred that I never encountered in the areas of inner San Francisco–Polk Street. or the Tenderloin’ where I preached also.
True, the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood in SF can be a little ‘rough’ at times, I once was punched in the face while preaching by an angry ex-believer, but to be honest, nothing compared to ‘Berzerkeley‘ (that’s what we called it.)
In three years of full-time evangelism I never met another man that was as hateful to the gospel of Jesus Christ as this professor in Berkeley. This incident was a brazen and deliberate calculation against the Gospel. Perhaps persecution by hardcore intellectuals will become the catalyst for our martyrdom to come. (?!).
No matter what happens. We are in God’s hands. Period.
Our obedience to Jesus should be a decision we must make right now. We can’t just hope to stand, or hope to be faithful. We must actively plan for persecution. This could very well be our time. It’s coming. And please get ready, you must watch and pray.
“But others trusted God and were beaten to death, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free—trusting that they would rise to a better life afterwards.”
Post art “The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer,” by Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904)
- Perpetua et Felicitas, Martyres Pro Christo (bbtheo2013.wordpress.com)
- Blog Assignment #9: The Martyrs (emonagha.wordpress.com)