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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Humbled!

There are certain passages in scripture that humble me each time I read them. My heart is both shattered with brokenness, and filled to overflowing with joy at the faithfulness of those that came before us, the things which they endured for the cause of Christ, and the fact that they did not accept deliverance of their hardships for the glorious reason that they might obtain a better resurrection. All they had to do was deny Christ, all they had to do was turn their back on Jesus and their pain would end, they would be reconciled with their families, they would enjoy the warmth of their own beds once more, and life would go on. All they had to do was walk away from truth in order to be spared torture of the most heinous kind, something that so-called Christians do today not because their lives are threatened, or because they have to suffer but because in their estimation the path of Christ is just too narrow and absent of excitement and fun. As yet we are not suffering, as yet we are not persecuted, as yet we are not tortured for our faith in this nation, yet with everything that has been bestowed upon us, with everything we take for granted on a daily basis, we still refuse to serve Christ with our whole hearts, we still refuse to surrender our all to Him, and in our rebellion seek out anyone that offers us an easier path.

The trials and tribulations that the primary church went through are beyond our understanding sometimes, for they were stoned, and sawn in two, they were slain with the sword, wandering about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute and afflicted and tormented. In our modern age we cannot fathom such things, we cannot begin to consider such things, dare I say many of us would not be willing to endure such things, and this is why we do not see the glory of God among us; this is why we do not see the power of God in our midst. In their most desperate moments, God revealed Himself more fully, raising the dead, performing miracles, endowing believers with power from on High that they might valiantly and faithfully endure until the end.

Hebrews 11:35-38, “Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trials of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy.”

I spent most of last night meditating on these three verses in Hebrews. They are not easy verses to digest; they are not easy verses to receive, because if their faith was such, then our faith must be such. If their steadfastness was such, then our steadfastness must be such, and if their faithfulness was such, then our faithfulness must be such.

At around two in the morning I had an epiphany of sorts that I want to share with you concerning this scripture passage. If we are not willing to live for Christ, there is no way we will be willing to die for Him. If we are not willing to serve Christ in our freedom and our excess, there is no way we will be willing to serve Him in our season of hardship and persecution. Contrary to the popular saying that when the going gets though the tough get going, I don’t believe that the majority of today’s church is tough enough to stand when it will require sacrifice to stand, nor do I believe the majority of the church will not accept deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection. We have been so conditioned to believe that this present life is more important than the life to come, we have been so conditioned to believe that comfort and ease and excess are all that matter that even the threat of having these things taken from us will make many turn away from Jesus. These men and women of whom the world was not worthy knew not only what they were dying for, but what they had lived for all along. They would not accept deliverance, because Jesus wasn’t just part of their life, Jesus was their life, and as such they could not deny Him that they might receive deliverance.

We must stop believing that a tangential and peripheral relationship with Jesus is sufficient, or that such a relationship will suffice in the days to come. We must stop believing that even if we don’t give God our whole heart, He will settle for a quarter or a half, because we’re just so special and unique.

What would you have to be threatened with to accept deliverance? Would the threat of being hated by the world be enough, would the threat of having your property confiscated be enough, would the threat of physical pain be enough, would torture, would death?

These saints of old were offered deliverance, they were offered a way out, yet they refused it, they rejected it, for the reward they knew was waiting for them beyond this life. It’s not like they didn’t know what would happen to them if they refused deliverance, it’s not like they didn’t know what would happen to them if they did not reject Christ, but their faith was strong, and their hearts were His, and they were dead to this world altogether, so much so that they saw their present sufferings, they saw their present circumstances as something unworthy to be compared with the glory that would be revealed in them.

Let’s face it, a great many souls are unwilling to wake up on Sunday morning to go to church never mind be willing to endure torture and loss for the cause of Christ. This is why churches have services at noon nowadays, because the members like to sleep in, and we need to accommodate, because heaven forbid we cause discomfort or the loss of a full eight hours of sleep to any of the sheep.

Do we realize the monumental impotence of what we call faith nowadays when compared to those of old? Do we realize the monumental worldliness and duplicity in which we are living when compared to those who gave their all for Christ?

We mock openly those that still suffer for Christ accusing them of not having enough faith, we mock openly those that still uphold righteousness and holiness dismissing them as old fashioned and behind the times, we mock openly the power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit telling all who would hear that God doesn’t do that anymore, then we beat our chest with pride at the cathedral we’ve just built, which seats no less than ten thousand individuals.

Whether one hundred corpses, or ten thousand corpses, a corpse is still a corpse, and it’s only a matter of time before it starts to stink.

‘But someone once said that it was easier serving God in tribulation than it is in freedom, so it’s just going to get easier once the persecution comes isn’t it?’

Not if you weren’t prepared for it, not if you didn’t purpose in your heart that you would endure to the end that you might obtain a better resurrection, not if your heart is tethered to the things of this earth. In the midst of the persecution, many will be offered a way out, they will be offered deliverance, and they will accept it because they never knew the fullness of Christ, or the reward thereof.

I write these lines not to frighten you, but to present you with the reality of Christ’s expectation of His disciples, for whoever denies Him before men, He will deny before the Father.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Moonbird said...

I've often done that mental exercise; would I endure torture for my faith? I've always more-or-less ended with a conscious "yes, of course," and an underlying "maybe." But my reality doesn't include torture. and the worst "persecution" I've endured is being called a goody-goody. I'm not sure if that counts.
But I don't feel a need to make up persecutions so I'll feel more godly. I don't taunt gay people just so they'll yell at me. I go to second service at my church. (The music is better, anyway.)
I do occasionally endure discomforts, like listening to the laments of jobless/homeless people at soup-suppers. ( I encourage all Christians to try it.) When I do share my faith with people, they've always been respectful.
I'm amazed at what Christians have endured for their faith. One day I might be called on to endure something just as painful. (I sure hope not.) I hope I'm not doing something wrong.