Saturday, June 28, 2008

Intimidation and Encouragement

"Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10, NIV).

Followers of Christ face some intimidating factors within our society. We are tempted to become timid and shrink back from our allegiance to our Savior. We see opinion polls which suggest that most of our neighbors who claim Christ as Lord do not believe him when he says that no one comes to his Father except through him. We are tempted to deny Jesus along with them so as to be non-offensive. We read books telling us that people see us as unChristian when we say that homosexuality and unnecessary abortions are sins against God. In an attempt to be popular, we are tempted to become silent about such issues, or worse yet, deny the biblical truth about them. Rather than kindly offering helpful teaching and opportunities for forgiveness and positive change, we are tempted to succumb to the social intimidation of our age.

When I am tempted to remain silent or to deny Christ, I think of some of my Christian heroes. I think of a couple of Christians who have spent their lives as missionaries in a hostile environment. They work in a country in which Christianity is illegal. They face the possibility of death as they work to get the good news of Jesus Christ to the people around them. Occasionally, members of their small network of house churches disappear in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again. They do not seem to worry about building emergent, seeker-friendly, or trendy churches. They are concerned about building up strong and faithful disciples of our Savior. Their faithfulness encourages me to follow Jesus despite my relatively small obstacles. They give me the courage to seek faithfulness instead of popularity.

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