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The Persecuted Church

For the last several months we have been aware of the persecution of Christians by ISIS  in the Middle East. For decades Christians have been persecuted in Asia and in African countries. And yet, Christianity is thriving in these areas.
I often think we in the West (I live in California) have a very shallow understanding of what it means to be a Christian. We are concerned over which church has the best worship music, the shortest sermons, and the most people attending. In some ways, the church we attend is "trendy." And we often confuse going to church with being a Christian.
If we read the Epistles in the New Testament, Paul, James, and Jude all introduce themselves as "Bondservants" of Christ. They are willingly slaves to Jesus. They know the gospel message and have no "weasel-clauses" about their dedication to Christ. In today's vernacular, they are "all in."
Perhaps if Christians had to endure a basic training similar to our military forces, we would understand the meaning of commitment to Jesus. Our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church know the extent of what it means to live and die for their faith. We have so much to learn from them - those who meet secretly in homes or isolated places. Those who treasure a Bible, even if they cannot read it. Those who love the Lord so much that they are willing not only to die for their faith, but to watch their children die at the hands of demonic oppression in the form of terrorists.
When we go to church on any given Sunday, let us come radiating Christ living inside of us. Let us leave invigorated to share the gospel in-season and out of season. Let us, like Paul, when we find ourselves imprisoned (political correctness, fear of looking foolish or insulting someone) love Jesus so much as to share the good news of salvation with those who are intimidating us. Compared to having a sword slicing into the back of your neck, a fear of rejection seems very trivial.

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