December 26 I Monday
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” —2 Timothy 3:12
Imagine for a moment that we live in a country that is hostile to anyone who is a Christian. When we want to gather with other believers in the Christian faith, we do so discreetly and secretly. As we make our journey to church, we are careful to mark our route, even going out of the way to make sure that we are not being followed. Taking a left, then a right and another right, after being certain that no one is following us, we are finally outside a door. We knock two times short and two times long before someone comes and opens the door for us. We are then led down a staircase into a basement where we find a few other Christians there.
In the secret gathering of believers in the persecuted church, we will find no beautiful auditorium, no ambient lights, no beautiful stage, no robust music team, no skinny jeans and stuff like that. We have a simple cassette with worship music leading us as we softly sing, “As the deer panteth for the water…” for fear that we may be too loud and the police would find and arrest us all. If there was a sign placed in the front of this church, it would probably say something along the lines of, “Come join in suffering for the gospel. You may be persecuted and crucified. Membership is limited.”
In the Western church, we are falling over ourselves to make new people comfortable, sometimes even minimizing the cost of discipleship. We focus on having ambient music, nice lightings and comfortable seating so that people are able to have a great worship experience. We will host luncheons so people can come in and discover all the ministries that have been created to suit their life stage. We can become so busy in welcoming and making it enjoyable for people that we do not realize the context for where the church is growing the fastest does not have all these things.
In the persecuted church, our welcome into the faith is, “Are you sure you want to be a Christian? Because you know what they do to Christians here... We are going to have a meeting but it is in a secret location. If you are going to come to that meeting, you are going to need to take a long detour around the city because we are under surveillance by the government, where secret forces could come in and arrest all of us at any moment.”
Take away the beautiful building and wonderful worship experience...are we willing to risk our lives to follow Jesus?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that I can worship You freely in North America. Give me a zealous heart, like those in the persecuted church, to surrender and risk my life as I choose to follow You—the One True God.