Would evidence convict you a Christian?

Published 12:56 am Saturday, February 21, 2015

If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? I’ve heard ministers asked this soul-searching question during sermons encouraging Christians to live out what they profess to believe.

David Platt has written a best-selling 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.”

The 21 Egyptian Christians beheaded in Libya in recent days experienced brutal and barbaric consequences for their faith in Christ. They were targeted by radical Islamists for being Christians, marched to a beach near Tripoli and murdered.

Hebrews chapter 11, sometimes called the “Hall of Faith,” came to mind after hearing this news story. It describes the persecution of the faithful, “Others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword…(Of whom the world was not worthy:).”

I have had to ask myself, “What has my faith in Jesus Christ cost me?” Nothing compared to these “people of the Cross” who were martyred. 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.”

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. His words still speak to persecuted Christians today.

“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes.”

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).

According to Open Doors, USA, an international Christian ministry which supports and strengthens persecuted Christians around the world, “Every day of every week, in at least 60 countries, people are persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ. In fact, more than 200 million are suffering. As American Christians, let us pray for persecuted Christians and follow Christ whatever the cost.