Our pastor recently shared a story from the book The Privilege of Persecution in a recent sermon. The authors minister to those Christians around the world that experience persecution for their faith. Persecutions like being denied religious freedoms and basic human rights are woven throughout the book. These persecuted Christians are discriminated against for their faith, put into prison for their faith, and some believers are even killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. The faith of the persecuted Church cost them more than it does in the West. We may end up losing friends but it can cost them their lives, their families, their comfort, & favor. The Privilege of Persecution caused me to really think.
Believers in some of the countries have to hide God's Word in their hearts because it's the only way to access it. Americans whine about how hard it is to commit scripture to memory, me included. Ask me the lyrics to my favorite songs from years ago or even now, no problem there. Not disciplining myself to memorize scripture because it's hard is a copout. I am an athlete. I know how much discipline and training it takes to win, to achieve, to succeed, to reach my goals. It's hard, sometimes painful, and sometimes I honestly don't like it. It's bound to be the same with scripture memory, but the results are worth it.
What if....we find our freedom to have the Bible in our possession stripped away tomorrow? Where would I be? I know several verses; but passages, nope. Quiet honestly, that's embarrassing on so many levels. I must follow the example of our persecuted brothers and sisters and know the Word, treasure it in my heart. Why? It's Truth. It's freedom, it's life, it's power, it's everything. This will take accountability.
The persecuted church likes to pray. Yes, they" like" to pray. I was reminded that how we view prayer is actually how we view God. They are happy that the God of the entire universe would actually make time to spend with them personally as they talk to Him and as "get" to listen to Him. They are absolutely dependant on prayer. We need more of that. I need more of that. Their love for the Lord, their fear of Him, the way they worship the holy God is beautiful.
Other issues addressed in the book that caused me to do a heart check were on their non-issues, like busyness, forgiveness, letting our blessings/our stuff get in the way of our walk. My toes were getting stepped on all over this book.
I have a lot to put into practice that I see in the lives my persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. I walk away with much respect for the persecuted church and their willingness to live out their faith no matter what the cost. I want to adopt that attitude, that heart, for Jesus, in America. And "if" my freedoms were removed, would I be as courageous as these? I pray so. Would I see persecution on behalf of the one I profess to love a privilege?
2 Tim 3:12," All who want to live a godly life in union with the Messiah Jesus will be persecuted." (ISV)