Many love Christ as long as there is no hardshipPublished 12:21am Saturday, August 24, 2013
Some news stories about the violence in Egypt report that upwards of 50 Christian churches have been looted and burned by Islamic supporters of Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Morsi.
Headlines read, “Egyptian protestors turn fury on Coptic Christians” and “Islamists hit Christian churches” (ABC News/CNN). Coptic Christians, which make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people, trace their history to John Mark, author of the Gospel of Mark, who preached in Egypt. The name Coptic is the Greek word for Egypt.
These anti-Christian attacks on churches, monasteries, schools, Christian-owned shops, and individual Christians have occurred as the chaos across the country continues. The pictures of torched sanctuaries, some more than 100 years old, provide visible evidence of the cost to these Christians for serving Christ.
According to Open Doors, USA, an international Christian ministry, which supports and strengthens persecuted Christians around the world, some 75 percent of the world’s population lives in an area with severe religious restrictions. “Every day of every week, in at least 60 countries, people are persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ. Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. An average of 100 Christians around the world are killed each month for their faith.”
The news reports and statistics on the persecuted church caused me to ask myself, “What does serving Christ cost me?” I can own a Bible and attend church without fearing for my life. I don’t have to sacrifice or suffer like many Christians around the world. But, do I obey Jesus’ words to His followers? “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
Thomas a Kempis once wrote, “Many are eager to be happy with him; few wish to suffer anything for him. Many will follow him as far as the breaking of bread, but few will remain to drink from his passion…Many love Christ as long as they encounter no hardship.”
David Platt has written a book titled, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, “We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.”
Platt issues a challenge to Christians, “You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him.”
New York Times best-selling author Ann Voskamp has said, “Perhaps, in this high calling to humble living, it is possible to remember daily his far greater sacrifice, his innumerable unmerited kindnesses, and choose to give thanks for whatever he gives in the moment – all of it.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran minister who opposed Hitler and died in a Nazi concentration camp near the end of World War II, wrote The Cost of Discipleship. He said, “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”
As American Christians, let us pray for persecuted Christians and follow Christ whole-heartedly.
Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.