I cannot stop thinking about them.
I cannot stop praying for them.
I cannot stop seeking my God for His intervention on their behalf.
In our Happy Blue School, I have hung a fabric cross above a world map on the wall. When I suspended that cross and map about two weeks ago after our move, I wanted them to serve as my visual reminders to pray for Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord over every man, woman, and child on earth. I want His Presence to deeply and intimately reach the hearts of man. At this time in my life, and in terms of my awareness of world affairs, I believe that we all need the Hope ensured, Salvation offered and the Lordship covering of Christ more than ever.
I believe that now more than ever there can be no neutrality in Christ. As Christ Followers, we must declare our allegiance and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the world.
This is why I cannot stop praying for the Iraqi and Syrian Believers; and for our world of men, women, and children who are choosing Christ above all else. For many Middle Eastern Believers, their proclamations of faith and their lives lived in the Presence of Christ have led to suffering, persecution, and death.
Their faith in Christ and their decision to follow Him has led to this crucible for them and perhaps us. A crucible, by definition, is a situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions. For the Iraqi and Syrian Christians, upon capture, they are given the choice of renouncing Christ or die.
How would you or I respond in such a moment?
It comes down to this, I think. Do we love, worship and fear God or man more?
A very long time ago, the Israelites were in a calamitous situation as well. Through Jeremiah the prophet, the LORD spoke these words to them:
They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. New International Version Jeremiah 32: 38-41
I believe that my sisters and brothers in Iraq and Syria and others who have chosen Christ and declared His Lordship to the point of severe persecution and death, have embraced God’s covenant and promise. We often think that the goodness of God must be manifested on earth. The prosperity faith that is so prevalent over here in Africa upholds this misunderstanding as truth. Some mistakenly believe that good things and positive circumstances equal God’s favor and Presence. According to this viewpoint, poor health, negative situations, and poverty are signs of God’s displeasure and judgment.
Material goods, wealth, success, and other situations or circumstances do not serve as a signpost of God’s favor. Such things are temporary and often inconsequential in the Kingdom of God.
What matters to our God is singleness of heart and action.
Are we solely devoted to our God and His Son Jesus Christ?
For if we are, we stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ across this world in unity and solidarity.
Matthew Henry wrote: All good Christians shall be incorporated into one body; Jews and Gentiles shall become one sheep-fold; and they shall all, as far as they are sanctified, have a disposition to love one another, the gospel they profess having in it the strongest inducements to mutual love, and the Spirit that dwells in them being the Spirit of love. Though they may have different apprehensions about minor things, they shall be all one in the great things of God, being renewed after the same image. Though they may have many paths, they have but one way, that of serious godliness. (from Matthew Henry Commentary: Jeremiah 32)
Serious godliness leads to whole-hearted devotion and worship of our Lord and Savior come what may. Our hope is found in nothing less…
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
In Him, my righteousness, alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
A crucible has come. I cannot stop praying and thinking about my brothers and sisters and their families across the world who have chosen Christ. Some have been martyred for the Name above all names. They are now standing faultless before the throne of God because of the Name of Christ.
They did not choose neutral ground.
They did not choose the fear of men.
They chose Christ and chose to known for His Name; once and for all. Their example slays me.
Will I do the same when my crucible of faith comes?
My answer is yes. I choose Jesus Christ.
I pray you join with me and our brothers and sisters throughout the world and choose Christ and rest in the assurance of His Hope. .
Photo from Chris Fiebelkorn of Flickr