… I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. 1 Peter 1:1-2
Be forewarned, friends. We’ll start dark this week, then race toward the light.
I once saw a grown man pass out upon seeing some blood. Eyes rolled back in his head, limbs buckled, and down he went. He lost consciousness and his Man Card in one fell swoop! Sorry, buddy. Trouble was, he had just started nursing school! I remember thinking, “You might want to reconsider your chosen field of endeavor, friend.” It turns out that actually seeing something is much more traumatic than reading about it.
I cannot imagine what our brothers and sisters in the early Church witnessed, day after interminable day. They were the hunted, the enslaved, the persecuted. Used as human torches, lighting the way to community events at night; as food for lions and tigers in the Arena. The ancients of our faith suffered unimaginable indignities and terror.
You and I cannot begin to understand what it means to live out our faith against the backdrop of hatred and persecution. Yet, there are Christians in our time who count the cost of their faith daily.
In 2014, we watched, horrified, as brutal savages known as ISIS began a systematic genocide of the Yazidis, chasing thousands to hide and starve at the top of a mountain in Iraq. In places like Uganda, China, Iraq and Syria, Christians live with the constant awareness of danger because of their beliefs. How do they do it?
One thing is true. When the Church faces persecution, it invariably strengthens and grows. Anyone know what is happening to Churches in the West, particularly American churches? Decline.
Meanwhile, persecution of the Church in this world is on the rise. We can faint dead away, friends, or we can pray and act. Don’t just read about it.
Would you spend some time today praying for your persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe? Ask our God for protection and provision, for grace and peace.