The more I talk with people who have walked with God for long periods of time, the more I realize there are times in the Christian life that are just more difficult than others. Seasons of slackness and lazy living. While I don’t believe the answer to those times is being “guilted” into persevering through those times, I do believe that motivation can come from recognizing how fortunate we are.
In the American church there are tremors spidering through pulpits and lecterns announcing the dangers of what’s coming. The rumblings include warnings about pastors being jailed for preaching certain texts that have social ramifications, and people not being allowed to express their beliefs in any public forum. While I don’t believe in alarmism, I do believe that there is truth in some of the things that are being said.
But, the issue that I think is of greater importance now is much simpler. Are we preaching those texts NOW, while they are still legal? Are we expressing our beliefs NOW, before there are legal problems? Are the same “pew warmers” who will hoot and “amen” those same talking points actually reading their Bibles? Are they spending time in prayer? Maybe there is a political and legal storm coming for the church in America, but maybe the spiritual storm has been raging for years and we just haven’t done anything about it.
Until “church-folk” can be 100% certain that Joan of Ark was not Noah’s wife and there is no mention of a whale in the book of Jonah and, more seriously, until those who claim to be followers of Christ believe the Scriptures as truth, Jesus as sinless, and eternity as imminent there is no reason to worry about the government or political solutions and protests. There is a great need to retrace our steps back to the place where Christianity started being a “safe” endeavor, and take the path of Jesus…the one that leads to our submission to His will and ultimately to the cross that He told us to take up (Luke 9:23-26). Maybe it is to the church’s benefit to be pressed, pushed, and forced to draw deep lines around those things that are worth the most.
In North Korea they have had to. How many of us would get up in the middle of the night to sneak across the road to a basement for a Bible study by flashlight? They have been forced to choose the things that are worth their lives. What would we choose?
This picture is what a Bible study looks like in North Korea. Flashlights are used because they have to be held in the middle of the night to try to avoid arrest.
This is from Voice of the Martyrs website:
North Korea is the worst perpetrator of persecution against Christians in the world. Christians must practice their faith in deep secrecy and are in constant danger, but many continue to stand strong under relentless persecution. The government considers Christians to be a stability threat, and they are hunted all over the country. Being a Christian carries a more severe punishment than espionage. The largest number of Christian worshipers in North Korea exists in concentration camps. In addition, one out of four Christian prisoners are sent to political prison camps where prisoners almost never leave. Experts estimate that of the 200,000 people incarcerated in political prison camps, at least 40,000 are Christians. Many North Korean Christians have fled to China, where there are an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 North Koreans. The Chinese government offers a bounty for North Korean refugees equal to one year’s salary. When refugees are caught, they are returned to North Korea, where they face torture, imprisonment and often death. This year the UN’s Human Rights Council passed a resolution expressing concern at “ongoing grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations” in North Korea. Despite this horrific oppression, some Christians have returned to North Korea to share the gospel. As many as 100,000 are thought to worship secretly. In 2009, the authorities are said to have stepped up their surveillance of Christians, and house searches are said to be more rigorous than in the past. Across North Korea, Christians continue to pray privately for evangelism and unity.
Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. (NLT)