My dear friend Lauren S. has been kind enough to write a guest post for my blog this week while I'm out of town. She runs an awesome blog over at Defying Depravity and co-authors with me over at Yearning for More. She's a friend I greatly respect, and I'm happy to be able to post her thoughts over here. Thank you, Lauren!
My great-grandmother said something to me in a recent letter helped motivate me to write this. Actually, it was a combination between her words and a conversation my mom and I recently that got me worked up a bit. Here’s what my great-grandmother said:
“Every day brings us closer to the day Jesus comes for His children. We need to live our lives like it’s out last day on earth.”
Now, I had been the one originally initiating the topic of conversation, but with snail-mail, I had forgotten about it. Reading her words again as I was writing her a response made me stop and think. It tied back to the conversation I already mentioned between my mom and me previously.
We had been talking about the shooting in Oregon that’s been in the news. We were discussing how hard it must have been to be a Christian in that room at that particular time, knowing that death was coming, and making that choice whether to defend your faith and hold strongly to it till the end, or whether to back down and cower out of it.
We also spoke of Kim Davis’ arrest, making an outward showing of her faith. This, too, lead on to what I’m about to say.
You thought it was only for the radical Christians, the brave-hearted foreign missionaries, the courageous pastors in countries where Christianity has been banned. You thought it would never happen to the people in your youth group, to the people sitting next to you in the morning service at church. You never dreamed it would happen to such a country as this, where all beliefs are welcome, where we wouldn’t dream of judging one another for religious practices.
What we picture as persecution, what we hear of Christians enduring in other foreign countries, what we all imagined would come at some point – it’s here now. Christians are getting shot, arrested, persecuted for their faith. Wake up, generation of Christians in America. Times aren’t getting better; they’re getting worse. Everything you thought was only possible in other countries, it’s here, in free America.
We laughed not so long ago – come on, this whole persecution thing is for the Middle East, for Africa, for China. Not here, of all places! But it’s true.
This is where our faith gets put to the test. Look at Hebrews 11:36-40.
Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
To look at the previous text, it lists many of the heroes of faith who evaded tragedies by faith. This is what some of them endured.
Whoa. Would our generation of Christians (or “Christians”) be able to face persecution like that? How many of us would, honestly, willingly be sawed in half or live in a hole in the ground instead of renouncing their faith or taking the easy route? I think I can truthfully say, not many of us would.
But there’s a promise, a reward for enduring such hardships and persecution. V. 39-40:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Wow. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a reason for the suffering, the persecution. Now, if only today’s Christian could see that…
So many Christians today are too concerned about their own comfort in life to worry about how seriously they take their faith. Which is overwhelmingly sad. God didn’t call for watered-down, half-hearted, lukewarm-cold faith. He asks for everything you have, all that you are, or nothing at all. There is no way to truly follow Christ without giving everything in you, without doing so with radical abandon and dying to self.
In this time now, America needs Christians that are on fire. We need Believers who would suffer unspeakable pain before they would ever even think about renouncing their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This country is filled with lukewarm Christians. Lukewarm Christians will not stand the test of faith, which is coming and is happening now. Lukewarm Christians are the ones who are disillusioned, who believe that persecution is only for the Middle East, China, or the very end times. We need to be ready now. We need to get our hearts and lives straight and in line with God, walking close to Him and living lives solely for Him. Lay your own life aside; your comfort, your cares, your dreams. Be a Christian that has a heart burning for Him. Be ready for the trials, the persecution, the tests. Live your life like it’s the last day on earth.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (Jas. 1:12)