There are places in our world where owning a bible, going to church, or proclaiming your faith could result in imprisonment, beatings, or even death. It is hard for people living in free countries to fathom that there are countries where being a Christ-follower is dangerous. North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq rank among the top nations where practicing Christianity is punishable by death. It is estimated that one in eight Christians world-wide lives in a country where practicing their faith is outlawed. (You can read more about this here)
When free people read the following passage in Matthew 10, we think about the rejection and ridicule we might experience for sharing our faith. We don’t think about danger if we are privileged enough to live in a country where such activity is permissible.
But today, I challenge you to read it with the lens of the persecuted church in mind:
Matthew 10 (Common English Bible)
26 “Therefore, don’t be afraid of those people because nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing secret that won’t be brought out into the open. 27 What I say to you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, announce from the rooftops.28 Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already.30 Even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.
Don’t be afraid. The stark reality that some could could kill the body but have no power over the soul is shocking when set in the context of countries who literally are torturing and executing Christians for their faith. Yet Jesus boldly proclaims three times not to be afraid, because the Father knows your situation down to the very last hair on your head.
Friends, we must pray for the persecuted church.
32 “Therefore, everyone who acknowledges me before people, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me before people, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Do you ever deny or downplay your faith? When you’re at a party or meeting someone for the first time, do you play it cool until you know if your faith will be accepted? Do you change the subject at family gatherings rather than suffer someone’s sarcasm?
Those of us who live in free nations must not hesitate to go and tell the good news of Christ. If ridicule is the worst weapon that might be formed against us, bring it on. We have brothers and sisters all over the world who can’t even possess a bible. Maybe we could open ours and do what it says on their behalf.