Is it just me, or does it seem that evil has become a wildfire that is spreading throughout the world so fast, it seems nearly impossible to contain it? I was just listening to a report a few days ago about Bedouins in the Sinai desert who are capturing Christians and torturing them in an attempt to extort money from their families. The torture involves anything from being tied up by their hands and left hanging for days, to burning their bodies with hot plastic. Often, they are captured simply because they are Christians. Here’s what one news report says:
Some are tortured to appease the sadistic pleasures of their kidnappers, or people who pay for the opportunity to torture a Christian. Others are sold into slavery.
The trade is thriving, particularly in North Africa where the Bedouin tribes are doing brisk business.
What’s significant about this is that Bedouins have been known for centuries to be a peaceful, nomadic people. What has made them become so evil?
Of course, as Christians, we know the answer to that: Satan himself. And if it is happening more and more around the world, those of us who still live in safety cannot assume it will always be that way. Jesus said that we would be persecuted for His name’s sake.
So it makes sense that we face this possibility, and to consider whether we love Him enough to withstand whatever comes our way. Do we love Him enough to be tortured for Him? Do we trust Him to be there with us, sustaining us, giving us courage and more than anything, a palpable sense of His presence?
The fact is, if that time comes, whether we feel His presence or not, we can know through the scripture that He will be there with us:
And it came about that in Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a great multitude believed, both of Jews and Greeks.
But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles, and embittered them against the brethren. Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands. (Acts 14:1-3)
When Paul and Barnabas were in Iconium, telling the people about the gospel, they met a lot of resistance from a certain sector of the Jews. But they knew that when they spoke, Jesus was with them. The words “bearing witness” come from the Greek word “martureo” and in this specific context it means, “to bear witness to, denoting accent or confirmation.” Jesus was with them, lending confirmation to everything they said, and granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands. Just as He has promised, He never left them as orphans, but upheld them, and confirmed every word that issued from their mouths.
No matter what happens in our lives, no matter what persecution comes our way, we must stand boldly for Jesus, knowing that He is always standing behind us, supporting us, loving us, giving us utterance to the words He would have us speak. Make no mistake, it’s a battlefield, and we are on the right army, the one that has already won.
Odd, isn’t it, that we are warriors in a battle that is already won? But the fact is, though the battle is won–Jesus is victor and Satan will go down in flames–we must fight valiantly against the devil who wants to take everyone down with him. We are battling to save lives. When we get to heaven, we’ll know that all of it was worth it–the persecution, the pain, the suffering for Jesus–because there will be a harvest of souls clothed in radiant white with eternally grateful hearts who will have been saved by our witness.
So decide now what you will do when persecution knocks on your door. And know, whatever comes, that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. If you stand for Him, He will stand with you, as close as your very breath. Breathe Him in, and breathe out His saving grace upon your persecutors.
It’s just another form of spiritual breathing, and another way to be a life-giving spirit.
And please pray for those who are being persecuted for Jesus around the world.