Thursday, December 3, 2009

there's only grace

"During 2009, attacks by Chinese officials on house church Christians grew more vicious. Raids on house churches increased. Arrests & imprisonments of pastors & evangelists skyrocketed.... The year 2009 brought unprecedented persecution to Chinese believers."
-Article in this month's Voice of the Martyrs newsletter

God has recently called me to be aware & to pray for the persecuted church around the world. We can get so caught up in our religious freedoms here, that it's beyond us that millions of people in countless other countries are being physically persecuted for loving Jesus. People are not allowed to own Bibles. They are not allowed to teach their children about Jesus. They are not allowed to worship through song. They are arrested, forced out of their homes, beaten to the point of death by the police & government officials.

So many prayers come to me when I think of it. I pray for their strength, for them to know the comfort & encouragement of Jesus that moment, for government officials to come to know Jesus through the people they are persecuting... but then sometimes I pray, why?? Why do they go through such horrifying, detestable things, when I simply fear that someone won't like me because of my love for Jesus? There is a certain amount of guilt I am tempted to feel when I consider it all - the cards they have been dealt, compared to the life I live. I feel spoiled, selfish.

God gave me this truth in an instant yesterday: every good thing comes from Him (James 1:17). I do nothing to deserve any of it, & can do no amount of good to continue receiving any kind of good circumstance. My life is not a result of my efforts or my self-righteousness. EVERYTHING IS BY HIS GRACE. It is by His grace that I am not living in China or the Philippines or India or Sudan. It does not mean that He loves me more than He loves those being persecuted. In fact, they know Jesus, as their provision, their hope, their comfort, in a way I will most likely never know Him. I can't compare myself to them. God places us all in very different lives & circumstances. What matters is not how much better or worse my life is compared to yours (any measure of that is through the eyes of the world anyways), but that I seek to know Jesus & obey Him in every aspect of my life, the same way the believers in Indonesia do. That I am thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18). That Jesus is my hope, my supply, my all.

So, pray with me for the persecuted church. Pray that they are thankful in all circumstances. Pray for the Church to continue to grow, despite the efforts of the governments around the world. & find hope in the fact that this is NOT our home, but we will one day inhabit the NEW earth (2 Peter 3:13, Rev. 21:1-8)... we'll be in a good place when we (I'm praying this for myself & all believers) can live with that always in mind.

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