Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13 (NASB)
In light of the increasing terror attacks in our world, and as those attacks begin to happen here in the United States I have been giving a lot of thought to standing firm in the face of persecution.
Scripture is clear that we will suffer for our faith, and like our brothers and sisters in foreign lands we will one day be called upon to make a life and death proclamation. We will be told to renounce our faith in Jesus Christ or suffer the punishment for it. We are on borrowed time. The question must be asked, will you stand in the day? In my counseling ministry I see so many people who are not dealing biblically or not dealing at all with relatively simple (compared to persecution) issues and I wonder how they will fare when the truly tough stuff comes along.
The only hope any of us have to be able to stand fearlessly against persecution is to have the Word of God so deeply ingrained in our hearts and minds that it becomes our automatic response to issues and problems. It has to start with the small things! It has to begin with the issues I write about each day on this blog and the other common to man things we face. Friends, if we crumple under the small things, and if we lack the discipline to live the Word of God in times without persecution, then how on earth will we ever manage when what we we view as the unthinkable happens?
These are some of the tough questions I have been asking myself recently. The events happening in our country and the world have caused me to look deep inside my soul. I am doing some hard evaluating of my faith and my ability to stand firm and live what I know is true - even if it means someone taking my freedom or my earthly life.
I recall reading an article in Voice of the Martyrs about a Christian from one of the Asian countries who was jailed for her faith. Each day she was presented with new forms of abuse and torture as the soldiers tried to make her renounce her faith in Jesus. One particular episode involved forcing her to stand on a narrow board for hours upon hours without food or water or a bathroom break. The soldiers would come and demand she renounce Jesus, she would politely refuse, and they would beat her. Then she would have to stand on the board until the next inquisition when the cycle would repeat itself. This went on all day long. At some point, they broke her leg and still they made her stand on the board with one leg if she would not reject her Lord.
I have thought of this young woman many times in the years since I read that story, and I wonder if I would have been so committed and steadfast if I were in her position. I sure hope so, but I truly do not know. I'd like to think I would be willing to leave this life for eternal like with Christ, but since I have not been tested this way I don't know what I would actually do or say if I were in the position of my Asian sister.
What about you? Have you asked yourself these questions? Do you know what your level of commitment to Jesus Christ is today? If the terrorists came into your workplace or classroom, or the store you stopped in to grab a gift for a loved one, would you be able to stand for Jesus in the face of torture or death?
The only way we will stand strong and unwavering is through the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Word of God. It has to become the priority of life; it simply has to. The stakes are too high to pretend these things won't happen in our lifetime. I think we'd all better face the fact that events like San Bernadino will in all likelihood be on the increase. Spend time every single day committing the Word of God to memory. Pray for the strength to stand firm in the face of persecution and even death for the sake of Christ.