(Note: This is a post written by my friend Mark LaFay, who manages several artists and who God has redeemed from wasting time. In case you hadn't heard yesterday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted church. I'd strongly encourage you to bookmark http://www.persecution.com and read it at least once a week. It's humbling. I believe what Mark has written here is totally prophetic in terms of what we living in western or developed countries experience as "persecution" or "trials". God's been working overtime lately to allow us to see just how empty the American "dream" is. Just take a look at our economy and see where the dream is taking us. God give us the strength to endure such foolishness as is offered to us daily. I renounce a dream that is only available to a select few and not to all of our brothers & sisters through-out the world.)
Hey Guys, so I have not sent one of these in a LONG time. Sorry about that. I am going to try to get back on a regular schedule of doing these again.
So this Sunday at church we heard a lot about missions and our mission partners and our mission trip headed to India and at the heart of it all was a message about the persecuted Church. Persecution for following the way of Jesus. We heard some startling statistics regarding martyrdom, governmental oppression and more. Christians all over the world are still persecuted for their belief and the crazy thing is that the Word says that this is a blessing (Mathew 5:10).
This Sunday really brought forth some personal revelations. Here in the US and Canada we are very sheltered. We don't deal with persecution in the form of bodily harm or imprisonment. We live a part of the world that actually legislates "Christian Morality." In America, you can't be elected president unless you fly the banner of Christianity. We fight for things like keeping "In God We Trust" on our coins and paper notes.
During His time on earth, Jesus preached about the poor and the persecuted and the downcast because all they had nothing else than to trust in His good news. Mathew 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." Jesus' way was and is so opposite to the way of the world that he knew persecution would come to those that took up his yoke. If persecution didn't come, then you probably weren't doing something right!
In modern North America there isn't that type of persecution. So does that mean we should sell everything and go move to the hood or be homeless and seek it out? I think not. I think though we do need to put aside the distractions and really listen for the Holy Spirit to guide. Jesus doesn't call us to be reckless but he does ask us to have a willing heart so that he can use us. I think in our lives, persecution comes in a completely different form. I think it looks like consumerism, capitalism, the American Dream. If we don't buy into it then we will miss out on something. If we don't fight to be the biggest fish then we will be swallowed whole. If we don't have the latest and the greatest in technology and amenities then we aren't good enough.
Persecution in OUR hometowns is complacency because our basic needs are covered by our jobs, insurance, etc. Why cry out for God and I mean REALLY cry out for God every day when we really have no need for Him? In a lot of ways I think we have replaced God with our own ability. I think Jesus is no longer our lifeline, he's our band-aid.
I'll end with this Scripture: 2 Cor 12:9-10
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
And a few questions:
What are the distractions in my life? What things do I never give God credit for? How often do i rely on my own ability rather than trusting in the power of Jesus? Why is it so hard to believe that i am more precious than the flowers in the fields to Jesus and that he will always provide?
Feel free to post a comment or hit up Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org