Perhaps Paul had it best. Private, swift and most likely painless. Peter, not so much, but at least he had a say in the details – inverted. Andrew went like His Lord. Thomas got speared (not spared). James (the other one) got stoned (with stones, not Cannabis). Even John, after surviving an unpleasantly hot oil spa unscathed, breathed his last alone in mandated isolation on a desolate rocky outcrop jutting out of the Aegean Sea.
Throughout history, tens of millions of other disciples have literally taken up their cross following in the footsteps of Jesus, Calvary and all.
Today, whether in North Korea, Afghanistan or Somalia, more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed each year across 54 out of earth’s 195 countries for not only following Jesus but actively sharing their faith in Him.
From Paul and Silas singing in a filthy jail, to Peter feeling unworthy to be crucified like His Lord, from Stephen praying for his accusers and countless others that have been tortured and martyred for Jesus while praising Him or preaching to jeering crowds, Christians throughout history have held on to their faith knowing that this world is not their home.
Today, in Australia at least, we face different challenges but whichever way we dice it our challenges are incomparably lighter than what our brothers and sisters still face around the world or what others have suffered throughout the ages.
Through these difficulties we have an incredible opportunity to express our faith in Jesus, love one another and share Good News.
This is not the time to take our eyes off Jesus (Heb 12:2).
It is not a time to peddle conspiracy theories (Isa 8:12-13).
It is not a time to be divided (John 17:20-21).
It is not a time to malign or mistreat those with differing opinions (Romans 15:1-3).
It is not a time to defy God ordained authorities (while not in conflict with the Word of God) (Rom 13:1-8, Matt 22:21).
And it most definitely is not a time for fear – whatever the reason (Matt 10:28-31).
Some of us are afraid of COVID. Some of us are afraid of the vaccine. Some of us are afraid of restrictions on individual freedom. Some of us are afraid of the unvaccinated. And the list of fears goes on.
And Jesus? He’s asleep in the boat while we frantically debate our fears on social media. When our frenzied panic finally wakes Him up, His words to us are shorter than the average Tweet: “You of little faith, why so afraid?”
Where is our trust in the Creator God of the Universe? Where is our faith in the crucified Saviour? Where is our hope in the risen Lord and returning King?
God can save us from the reality of our worst fears, and if He chooses not to, why not stand firm in the face of the fiery furnace like the three worthies (Dan 3:16-18)?
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31).
“Talk unbelief, and you will have unbelief; but talk faith, and you will have faith. According to the seed sown will be the harvest.”
(Ellen White, HS, 142)
Today in our churches let us talk faith in Jesus and work together to seek and save the lost. On social media, let us share what Jesus has done for us – irrefutable evidence that there is a God. In our communities, let us live in humility, valuing others above ourselves and looking out for their wellbeing (Phil 2:3).
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7).
Pr. Cristian Copaceanu