Friday, August 13, 2010
"The first lesson we learned was how to count the cost. In Egypt, our theology is the theology of pain. It is not a theology of prosperity. We don't know the theology of prosperity, but we know Jesus."
I took this quote from a magazine that I subscribe to. The Voice of Martyrs Serving the Persecuted Church. When I read this magazine I find myself envious. Many may find this strange, or even down right crazy. By comparison, we Christians in America are spoiled, and ungrateful. We measure God's love in what he gives, what he takes away, and what he allows to happen (good or bad). Dare I say that we've become lazy, worldly, and selfish. Church for us is about building great "churches" having great youth programs, great worship music, and numbers. Church has become religion, with no relationship with Jesus. It's become something that we do every Sunday and Wednesday night. Do we really know what sacrifice is, to die for the cause of the kingdom, to not know if we'll ever see our family again? Do we know what it truly is to forsake all for Jesus---to leave it all behind? Do we know what it is to not have the freedom to read our bibles, meet with others ? Sadly, most of us don't know and really don't want to know.
Each Sunday morning we gather in buildings critiquing the music, gossiping about brother and sister so and so. All while our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering for the cause. We gripe about the pastor's message, how long it was. We complain about how long praise and worship was or how bad it was. When we get mad or get our feelings hurt we just leave and join another "church"---or we just start a new church. Not to say that there are not instances when leaving a church is warranted, because it is. But for so many there's nothing warranted, its because our toes have gotten stepped on.
When I look at those who have been killed, tortured, and imprisoned never once have they wavered on their love for Christ. They are steadfast, faithful to the very end. Ministry doesn't equal money, worldly possessions, silver and gold, but rather knowing that they are reaching others for Christ and adding to the kingdom. They do not take their tribulations as punishment or a curse but welcome it, because they truly know where their inheritance lies.
As I write this post thousands are rounded up like cattle, beat within inches of their life, accused of blasphemy- all for Christ. The above quote says it all, doesn't it? I'm sure that there are those who will read this and critique it with great words of condemnation, challenge my thoughts, and tell me I'm wrong. But ask yourself this question----how far would you really go for the King?
I'm not sure about you, but personally I've wasted enough of my life over mundane things. Are we ready to really do the will of the Father? Are we ready to step out of our comfort zones and walk out on faith. Are we really ready to trust him? I am!
Reading Acts has really placed things in perspective for me! We do "church" instead of being the church of Christ. I'll leave you with a quote from another brother in Christ who faces death daily for the cause of Christ. When asked his thoughts on what the Apostle Paul calls tribulations He responded with the following:
"I think that suffering is a most beautiful part of the Christian faith because Christianity without pain, without suffering, without hard times is like the ready-made food. There's nothing true in it. It's very superficial, very shallow." And may I add--he did not say suffering is the only part of the Christian faith, but "a most beautiful part."
Father forgive me for treating you like a genie in a bottle. I thank you for the wake up call, the probing of my heart and showing me the order of things. It's so much clearer now. The kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.