I recall an email that made the circuit and talked about armed masked gunmen entering a Christian church on a Sunday morning. They pointed their automatic weapons at the congregation and asked who was ready to die for Jesus and who wanted to leave. After about ninety percent of the congregation fled, the terrorists removed their masks and told the pastor he could continue now with his message because those left were to ones that would give all, including their lives, for Christ.
Though this email is a hypothetical story designed to prove a point, there are thousands of Christians worldwide that are facing that decision on a daily basis.
Christians in the Sudan and Nigeria are currently being targeted by Muslims who are bent on cleansing their country from Christian infidels. Following the Christmas day bombings that killed 43 people in Nigeria, a Muslim extremist by the name of Boko Haram (meaning ‘western education is sin’) gave Christians three days to pack up and leave.
In the Sudan, over two million Christians and animists have been killed by Muslim extremists. Even though a peace accord was reached, creating an independent Southern Sudan which is predominantly Christian, Muslim extremists from the north continue to attack and bomb Christians.
To escape this terrible tragedy, all these people have to do is renounce their Christian faith and bow to Allah.
What’s happening to these Christians is no different than the slaughter of Christians by ancient Rome. Men, women and children were given the opportunity to renounce their faith in Jesus or face a cruel and gruesome torture and death. Thousands of them stood strong in the faith, knowing what was about to happen to them. The only peace they had was knowing that they were about to meet their Lord and Savior where they would no longer be persecuted for their faith.
I often think about the great German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Arrested for his role in a plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1943, Bonhoeffer continued to preach to his Nazi captors. They ordered him to stop and he was even beaten because of his preaching, but Bonhoeffer was not to deny his Lord and Savior and continued to stand strong and preach the Gospel until he was hanged on April 9, 1945.
I ask each of you today to take time to reflect on how strong your faith really is. It’s easy to say you would remain faithful, especially if the attack was only aimed at yourself, but would you really die for Christ? What if the threat was made toward your loved ones, spouse, parents, and children? If someone threatened to physically and sexually abuse your wife or daughter unless you renounced your faith in Jesus, what would you do? And don’t think this is just hypothetical because it has happened in the past.
If you’re not sure you could or know you couldn’t, may I strongly suggest that you spend some time in Scripture and study just what Christ did for you for all eternity. Because if your faith isn’t strong enough to stand up for Him, then there’s a good chance it isn’t genuine faith after all and when your time comes, you may be in for a shocking revelation.