Nothing has gripped me so harshly like hearing about our brothers and sisters in the Middle East who are being persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith today. It is their children that have struck me with such awe! In the face of sheer evil, these children have not only believed in Jesus, they have boldly spoken of Him, declaring Him Lord. Knowing that emanate death, a death of unfathomable torture that reaches far beyond our mind’s understanding, is facing them; these children declare Jesus as their Lord. They declare it by carrying the death of Jesus in their little mortal bodies, but they reveal His life by their most courageous act of faith. These children have Jesus so close to their view, that they see nothing else in this world, not even their ripped flesh – they see Jesus and the Life to come.
How can we be like them?
“It is written: I believed; therefore I have spoken. Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Our brothers and sisters (old and young) are standing on the edge of eternity; they are speaking what they believe. they teach us that it is not good enough to just believe, we must speak. We must speak out! For when we speak out, others can see Christ in our life.
Those that are suffering under the direct hand of the Devil are not just imitators of Christ; they are examples for you and me. For when the time comes for you and me to suffer under this hand of evil, we will know from their model how to speak and not shrink back from our confident faith. We must let our faith lead as our comforts fall away.
How can we make Jesus this close to us?
To start with, we should not treat Jesus and His word like it’s a candy bar to have on occasion. Jesus and His word are the main meal in our lives. The people who have suffered in the face of such evil had/have Jesus as their main sustenance. Jesus is the main meal and the candy bar! He is exclusive. He is their solitary means for life on earth and for all eternity. Too much of our world on earth can get in the way of Him being up close to our life. We need to be so close that we see nothing else in between.
Would we dare allow our Christian brothers and sisters to die in vain? We may not be able to rescue them from their persecutors, but we can learn from them! We can choose to die to our life of comforts. Often our comforts do not only involve things; we can take for granted our freedom to worship God. We think this choice will always be here. So, we…
- …put off receiving Christ.
- …put off going to church.
- …put off reading our Bible.
- …put off prayer.
Don’t kid yourself; we will not always have these freedoms. We must prepare ourselves. Daily and moment by moment we must fall on our knees, pray to our God, and saturate ourselves with His word and His character. Then we will be bold, courageous, and as valiant in the face of evil as our Christian family members in the Middle East. This would bring them honor, make their death count, and ready us for our time of suffering.
I would venture to say that these children who have died for their faith are up in heaven, holding out their cupped hands and saying to each one of us here, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, (WHY?) so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, BUT life is at work in you” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12).