I always found the stories of young children threatening to run away humorous. Really… where does that six year old really think he is going to go? They don’t think about protection or how they will get food and clothing. They don’t think about how they will miss their family. In their mind, what they are really saying is, “I am running away, but I will be back for dinner.”
But how much like that were we? Before salvation, we were running away like little six year olds. We were without the Shepherd and we really thought we could make it just fine. We were sheep with no way of protection and totally oblivious to the dangers.
Even after salvation, sometimes we (like the six year old) wander out the door, thinking we can make it on our own, but we will be back for dinner. We think in our minds that just a little wandering will not hurt. But the moment we leave the side of our Shepherd, we are in danger, we lack provision, and we gain a taste for the food from the world’s table. Poisoned little by little, and losing our appetite for our Shepherd’s food.
“I’m running away, but I will be back for dinner…”
They were having their Resurrection Sunday church services. Suddenly, police entered the room and took over. Several leaders from several churches were taken into custody and questioned. Personal items were confiscated as well as passports.
This all took place in Harbin, China, this weekend. What perfect timing to continue talking about persecution and suffering. And not just any suffering. Suffering for righteousness… and suffering with a purpose.
Christ didn’t come to suffer persecution so that He could brag about enduring suffering. He did it for a purpose. “That we… should live unto righteousness…” He did it for our salvation. For our healing.
When we endure persecution, we need to remember why we are suffering. It isn’t so we can post on Facebook “Hey, guys. We are suffering. Aren’t we spiritual!”
If we are to have the mind and heart of Christ, we, too, must be willing to suffer so that others can live. They cannot live unto righteousness of they do not hear the message of the Gospel. They must hear the message, and we must be willing to endure persecution taking that message to them. Why? Because we love them? Well, I hope we do love them, but the best motivator is because we love our Saviour who willingly suffered for us to make salvation possible.
There is a really bad practice here of husbands leaving to go to another country for work. They stay gone for two years at a time. Their thinking is that they will make a lot of money and all their problems will be solved. Counsel is given from godly sources that it is a bad idea and that it will put a dangerous strain on the marriage. But since everyone in the family is in agreement, and the husband takes off.
We had just left church. We were on the front sidewalk preparing to get on the motorcycle and scooter to head home. I noticed a rickshaw coming down the street toward us. Sure enough, he stopped beside us and began talking to Jason. He spoke very little English, and pronounced it poorly. He asked Jason where he was from.
Disowned by family.
Loss of home.
Loss of spouse.
Loss of job.
All for becoming a Christian or for following God. These things are foreign to Americans, but these things are all too real here. Just the other day Jason spoke to a man about coming to church. The man’s response?
“If I convert, I will lose my home and my job.”