Over the years, I have developed a profound sense of awe and aspiration for the persecuted church. This, however, is not some passing fancy, but simple obedience to the Word of God.
In Hebrews 13:7, we read: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (ESV). The way this passage reads, the elusive writer of this Book, implies that some of the pastors of the church had been martyred for the faith. He commands remembrance of them (this ties in to verse three of the same chapter). In other words, “call them to mind”. Do not just remember their conduct or features, but the lessons that they taught from the Word of God. Secondly, he commands that we consider what happen to them due to the life that they lived. They boldly and courageously lived the Christian life, void of compromise or apology. What did they receive for this from the world? Death. The Bible promises persecution for all Christians that truly live the biblical life (2 Timothy 2:12). Lastly, the verse commands that we imitate their faith, and by extension be ready for the same outcome that they received. Are you ready to die for the cause of Christ? It is easy to quote Christians. It is easy to hang their pictures on our walls. It is, however, true Christianity when we “mimic” them (1 Corinthians 11:1).
I am young in age, in Christianity, and in ministry; nevertheless, I am weary. I grow weary from reading reports of all that my brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and many other places; while the “church” in America is failing even to share the Gospel with the apartment complex or trailer park next to the church. I grow weary seeing 21 Egyptian Christians lose their heads for Christ, while our “churches” refuse to give up their Wednesday evenings to study the Word of God. If you are too busy to attend church to hear the teaching of the Word, then you are TOO busy. I am at a loss for words as to how to even begin to compare their faith with ours. We are, indeed, grasshoppers to them.
What can we do for them? How can we obey Hebrews 13:3 and 7? We can educate ourselves about their cause. (Check out www.opendoorsusa.org and www.persecution.com ) We can pray for them. I mean REALLY pray for them. We can recognize that they are modern members of the “Hall of Faith”. “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, and they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:36-38, ESV) Perhaps while on our knees in intercession for the persecuted church, we will come to terms with the drastic need for revival in the churches of this country.