The man to the right is a man I have never met. A man I have never talked to, and man many people do not even know exists. But yet, he’s a man I have been thinking about all day. His name is Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Pastor, arrested in 2009, who is set to face execution, for professing to be a Christian. The profession many of us claim, but yet in his country it is illegal. All he had to do to be set free was renounce his belief in Christ, and he could go free, and he would not.
As I was discussing this with my pastor and others this morning the phase we kept saying was, “We Don’t Have A Clue!”
This seems crazy here in America, the land of the free. Freedom, where we can worship, who and where we want, without any persecution, or threat of persecution. But my thought all day has been, has this freedom we enjoy caused us to become casual in the way we worship, and the way we walk with God. So instead of seeking God, and worshipping Him, we in our freedom begin to look for a church that fits our needs, and our wants, it becomes all about us. What type of music is sung? Is the preacher funny or not? Does he speak for 20 minutes or an hour? Whats the youth group like? Whats the dress code there? etc…
All the while missing the point all together.
David Platt says, “The freighting reality of the Gospel, Jesus does call us to give up everything we have. And He may tell anyone of us to sell all of our possessions, and give them to the poor. But we don’t believe this. If we form Jesus to look like us, and to be who we want Him to be then even when we gather together and sing our praises and lift our hands, the reality is we are not worshipping the Jesus of the Bible, we are worshipping and singing to ourselves.”
It’s a foreign idea to us, that someone would be put to death for being a Christian. We would say it’s not normal. I just wonder what Christianity would look like in America if there was a cost to being a follower of Christ. You see persecution for your faith is normal in most of the world, just not in our little bubble. America only makes up about 4% of the world’s population, so we are not the norm, or the standard, as much as we like to think that we are. Where countries like India and China alone make up roughly 40% of the world’s population, and they are some of the most dangerous countries in the world for a professing Christian to live. Freedom we experience and freedom we take for granted is not the norm, and it shouldn’t be.
Jesus and the Bible teach that there was a cost to following Him. That there would be persecution, that others would hate you, maybe even your own family (see: Matthew 10:22; John 15:18-20; Luke 21:12; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 John 3:13; Luke 14:25-35). This is what Christianity should look like, and in many places around the world it does.
There should be a seriousness involved in us claiming to be Christians. That’s what I see when I read the Bible, Jesus taught it, the Disciples believed, it and also taught it,and their lives matched it.
Could it be that in our enjoyment of our freedom we are missing the point? Our freedom doesn’t necessarily require us to take any stands. What if church wasn’t all about our wants, and their wasn’t hundreds within a short driving distance of your house? If there was only one church, with one type of music, and it may last all day, would we go? What if it was hidden in an abandoned building, and not a fancy building? Would we love Christ enough to go? If it was hard to call ourselves Christians, could we do it?
Why do we go to church now? Duty or Delight? Has it become just part of our routine? Do we sometimes care more about sleep, golf, lake, football games, gathering for dinner,etc, than we do seeking the Creator of everything who has loved us, and has pursued us, and has rescued us? The One who knew no sin, but yet became sin on our behalf, so that we could become His Righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Are we serious in our faith? Have we become casual in our freedom? Have we counted the cost and said yes Christ, You are worth it?