DENYING JESUS WITH A PEN
Last week my friends were sitting inside a village office in a third world communist country. Local leaders and police with stoic faces sat around the room, one held an AK-47. On a table in front of my friends was a piece of paper and a pen. All they had to do was sign and their problems would go away. There would be no more threats of arrest, no more accusations of causing division, no more exclusion from community projects and no more warnings of eviction from the village.
All they had to do was sign a piece of paper.
Signing the document would state their formal rejection of Jesus. They would be agreeing that Christianity is a foreign white man’s religion. They would be saying that Jesus has no place in rural Asia. They would be obligated to turnover their Bibles and end weekly house church meetings. They would be recanting their faith and expected to return to the worship of ancestors, idols and spirits.
All they had to do was sign.
My friends themselves did not sign the document but sadly many other villagers did.
Those that signed have returned to their former lifestyles and are no longer in danger from local authorities. I would like to say that my friends are rock solid in their faith but some are living in fear and doubt. They are wavering on the brink of collapse. Ultimately I trust that they will persevere. In the end they will come through the fire unscathed, refined and emblazoned with faith. Their story is not yet finished…
DENYING JESUS WITH A PHONE
Now we’re thinking that this situation is @#$% up. You’re asking yourself, “What would I do in their place?” And you are thanking God that you live in a free country like the USA. Despite the current wave of polarizing rhetoric in social media and politics, our country really is great and free. And maybe we’ve taken its’ greatness and freedom for granted.
The majority of the New Testament letters were written to a Church living in hard times. A people without freedoms and oppressed by an authoritarian racist government (the Romans). They did not have many political, individual or human rights. They were rejected by society and persecuted for their unpopular religious views.
New Testament Christians did not participate in idol worship, pagan rituals and temple sex like those around them. They worshipped in homes and included people from all walks of life and ethnicities. They lived counter-cultural lifestyles displayed through love, sacrifice and forgiveness. They were followers of Jesus and spoke of a spiritual Kingdom that was not of this physical world.
We Christians in the West are not living in third world communist countries or ancient biblical times but we are still faced with choices to deny Jesus every day. In a world where Kanye West has his own Bible and a xenophobic, megalomaniac, reality TV star is running for president there is enormous pressure to conform to the world’s thinking and it’s values. There is an intense battle going on for our holistic allegiance.
All we have to do is pick up our smart phones.
All we have to do is post or tweet.
Sadly many of us have already tweeted away our values by giving in to the divisive rhetoric of the day. We have publically aligned ourselves over to a certain political party, denomination, country or ethnic group and have privately denied Jesus. We go back to our lives without ridicule or complaint from the world. We maintain the religious status-quo and carefully place our light under a basket. I would like to say that Christians in the West are rock solid in their faith but many are living in fear and pride.
Yet all is not lost. Hope is alive. I know that many have overcome the world and persevered at great cost. We are followers of Jesus and must walk through the fire. In the end we will come through refined and emblazoned with faith. Our story is not yet finished…