Did you know that every day in 2020, at least eleven Christians were martyred?
-In North Korea, Christians are considered hostile elements to be eradicated.
-Afghanistan— Christianity is not permitted to exist. Converts are considered literally insane. As a result, some may end up in a psychiatric hospital and have their homes destroyed.
-In Somalia, Christians are high-value targets are often killed on the spot when discovered.
-Christians in Pakistan live with constant threat of mob attacks. Christians are largely regarded as second-class citizens. An estimated 700 girls and women abducted each year are often raped and then forcefully married to Muslim men in the community. Christians suffer from institutionalized discrimination. Occupations seen as low, dirty and derogatory are officially reserved for Christians. Many Christians are very poor, and some are victims of bonded labor.
-Christians are imprisoned in shipping containers in Eritrea where the often die of heat stroke.
-In Iran it is iIllegal to convert and illegal to preach Christianity.
-There’s unprecedented violence against Christians in India—-the world’s second most populous country, Christians are experiencing unprecedented persecution on numerous fronts from both the State and general Hindu society. For the first time, India enters the top 10 on the World Watch; one church is closed down every week because they have beed accused of “destroying” local tradition and culture by “luring” others to convert to Christianity. And it is common for Christians to be cut off from local water supplies and be denied access to government-subsidized groceries.
Despite what you might hear, the world is still hostile to those who follow Jesus Christ. Perhaps that’s why many Christian churches in Europe and the America’s seem to want to “fit in” by diluting the faith to make it less offensive.. In the west, we’ve become a religion that dutifully serves congregants that don’t obey Him and don’t listen to Him.
The Christian life is undeniably the most full-filling, adventurous and and purposeful life possible— even though folks who do live in persecution still choose to follow Him. So why don’t people living in freedom in the Americas and Europe choose to follow the same Christ that millions of people in Asia and Africa suffer to follow??? Why isn’t all humanity falling down on their knees and accepting the abundant life?
I think the answer can be found if you read the Bible and study church history. For example, why didn’t people, in Jesus’ time all follow Him? They saw the miracles, the scholars knew He was right—-those teaches had studied the Torah and even memorized it! Why did they not give up their errors and embrace the truth…how could you are argue with a man that said He would soon be killed but would raise from the dead in three days——and then He did it?
Many people hear the stories, sit through a sermon or read the Bible and simply do not like what they hear. Mark Twain wrote: "It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it's the parts that I do understand.” The Bible is full of things that some people don’t like to know and other things that some preachers don’t like to preach.
Since I was a child I really loved to hear sermons that included Bible stories about the great heroes of the Bible or any sermon that caused me to think; but as a Southern Baptist I got weary of hearing every sermon appeal for salvation of the lost— precious little preaching was dedicated to helping those who already knew Christ to grew and grow strong. And today it is a fact fact that many in America, and most of Western society, tend to be ignoring the Christian message altogether. People are not listening to us! Two things should be considered:
1. Are we being a faithful witness to Jesus Christ by living as the first followers lived and followed Him? If we do, the church will not only survive, it will thrive!
2. If we are being faithful to God, it’s also a fact that many will not pay attention, many will mock us and some may even leave the faith. Think about it: Jesus said many things that the people loved to hear, but as the time of His death approached, and He gave more details, people began to abandon Him. When He spoke about Him being the “true bread from heaven”, the Bible says that, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” (John 6:66, NIV). He said somethings that turned people off. It’s part of truly preaching the gospel—-some folks are going to be turned and off and will walk away. But that’s often when a renewal begins..
At other times , when the disciples of Jesus preached, many in attendance become converts, but on more than one occasion, folks just got very nasty—and nothing has changed if you truly preach the gospel. It will offend some people. For example, the first time Stephen preached, here’s what happened: “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth…..Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord…. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:54-60, NIV). Does our preaching bring about such an emotional response today?
Sometimes it’s not growth that proves we’re doing His work or earning His pleasure, but the anger and hatred we arouse. If the gospel is authentically being preach in churches, some people will stop attending. When Moses confronted two fellow Hebrews that were fighting over something, what did they say? “Who has made you ruler of us?” Think also about Noah: For over 40-50 years he preached, hoping people would listen and become righteous—but no one listened, all of them perished. Centuries later a prophet named Amos preached the truth about justice and mercy, but all those he preached to in Judah and Israel rejected him—ALL OF THEM WENT INTO CAPTIVITY OR WERE KILLED… and to shut him up the cut in half with a saw.
Every now and then one of God’s anointed speaks and an entire nations repent, viz. Jonah preached to Nineveh and Joshua asked the Israelites who they would serve. At other times thousands were converted, as when Peter spoke to the crowds in Jerusalem. But it’s a fact that quite often the crowd or the nations rallied against God’s anointed—we could be seeing that in our lifetime in this nation. There are hundreds of pastors and priests locked upon in prison in China, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea—-and perhaps in the USA one day as well. The last thing a communist, a despot or and Islamic government wants is truth and transparency—the same appears to be the case for some we might have elected to the highest offices in our nation. Time will tell. But we must be people of honesty, transparency, kindness and tolerance if we respect it from those that hate us and our faith.
Even today, there are “Noah’s” being ignored and Amos’ and Stephens’ being martyred because they are passionate about the gospel and put their lives on the line for Jesus. We need to wake up in America and Western Europe….