Every day my heart breaks as I read of yet another person who was beaten, tortured, or killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. It is a rare day when a new report does not hit my inbox. Writing in my warm house in my safe neighborhood, my daily experience could not be more different from theirs. I am free to gather with others to worship any time I choose.
I can buy Bibles and Christian materials twenty-four hours a day and have them delivered the next afternoon. The dizzying array of churches and resources available to me almost borders on being overwhelming. And yet the faith of so many in the West remains weak compared to the deep faith of those who have no access to such a bounty of instruction and encouragement.
With everything at my fingertips, should persecution come, I should have no problem enduring it. But is that true? Would I be able to hold fast to my faith when being subjected to torture? I will refrain from describing what our brothers and sisters go through in deference to the sensitivities of this audience. I know many who do not want to hear or read about what the persecuted Church is going through because of their refusal to deny Jesus. Westerners can get squeamish when looking at pictures or reading descriptions of the atrocities committed against our family in Christ. Perhaps we have become too comfortable in our plush surroundings to handle the reality of the world at large.
The point I want to make today is persecution may come one day. If it does, we need to be ready. The time to discover if our faith is strong enough is not when we are being beaten (or worse). We must prepare beforehand and nurture a deep faith, so when persecution comes, we will stand strong in the knowledge and beauty of our King (Ephesians 6:13).
The church in Iran is one of the fastest-growing churches in the world, but workers there report their spiritual maturity is not deep because they lack resources and teachers. We lack neither, so we are without excuse. If our Iranian brothers and sisters in their Christian infancy can be so bold and unflinching, then Americans and others in the West should be able to stand rock solid. But is that true?
Do you have a deep faith, one so undeniable and so strong that nothing could ever shake it? If not, why not? What’s keeping you from learning more, studying more, and falling deeper in love with the One who created You, lived for you, and died for you? There is no greater love than what Jesus has for us. I think the persecuted Church demonstrates a close second as they choose Jesus over their own comfort, security, and lives. We would do well to emulate their example. Let’s be certain when the time comes for our own trial, we have established and equipped ourselves with a deep faith so we can stand strong. We will need the strength of Jesus nurtured by our own intense desire to serve Him above all and despite whatever may come. He will be with us and carry us through. Don’t wait for persecution to come before growing deep into the Word and character of God. Build your faith today and make certain you are building it deep.