“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I have been selfish. We have been selfish.
Because we have only been thinking about ourselves.
Most of us live in counties and countries where there is freedom of worship. We can own and read bibles openly, Christian Religious Education is still in some of our systems, we can pray openly and we have corporate worship without limitations. To us, this is normal, nothing out of the ordinary. That’s probably why we can wake up and ‘feel’ like not going to church on Sunday. That’s also probably why some can sit in worship unmoved waiting for people to finish praying so we can move on to the next part of the church service program. Some of us have become familiar with the things of God and so we no longer see that these are actually privileges we enjoy; not rights.
First, it is a privilege and an honor to worship God. When we consider His majesty and splendor, it is easy, like the psalmist, to ask “What is man that you are mindful of Him?” Secondly, there are other members of the church (the body) who are facing persecution because of their faith. They cannot pray without hiding, own a bible without risking arrest, gather as saints without risking imprisonment or death and this is just a fraction of what these believers go through. It’s not the plot for a movie, it is someone’s reality. Iran, Yemen, India, Pakistan, parts of Nigeria and the list goes on.
My plea to all of us today is to pray for the persecuted. Pray for those who are in prison because of the gospel, for the individuals that are risking their lives to spread the Word, for those who are huddled in basements just to have church service and fellowship. Pray for those who cannot own even the page of a bible or download a bible app on their device for convenience. Pray for those who have suffered torture or any physical pain because they have refused to denounce Christ. Pray for the families of those who have lost their lives because of Christ’s lordship over their lives. Pray that their pain/ suffering/ affliction will not be in vain. Pray for strength, boldness, wisdom, divine provision and equipping of these believers in Jesus name. We may not be in a position to do much on the ground at the moment but we can pray.
In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul reminds us that we are all part of the body. In verse 26, we see that when one member suffers, all suffer. This is why we cannot afford to be inactive just because we are far removed from those facing persecution in other counties, countries or continents. At the end of the day, we are one body. And I’m not implying that we don’t have problems of our own. I’m only imploring us to look beyond ourselves and our struggles. As it dawns on us that we are privileged to have freedom of worship, may we be thankful and (in the same breath) commit those who don’t have the same privilege to God.
Hebrews 13:3 (KJV)
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Hebrews 13:3 (NLT)
Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.