Living and Dying for Christ

Christians are dying for their faith around the world.

According to Open Doors USA, a missions organization supporting persecuted Christians around the world, “2014 will go down in history for having the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era.”

As reported by the Washington Post, Open Doors noted a total of “4,344 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons between Dec. 1, 2013 and Nov. 30, 2014—more than twice the number killed during the same period the previous year.” Christians in IraqIn February of this year, ISIL beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya. In April, al-Shabab militants killed at least 148 non-Muslims at Garissa University College in Kenya.

Awareness of the suffering and martyrdom of fellow believers around the world floods us with grief. For many, should it ever become necessary, it also instills in us a desire to die as nobly and faithfully as they have.

But how can we die faithfully if we are so easily distracted from living faithfully? Living and dying for Christ – which is more difficult? Especially in the United States, it seems more difficult to live for the Lord than to die for Him.

Attend church every Sunday?
But that’s my only day to sleep late.

Serve in the nursery?
That’s not the ministry for me.

Lead a Bible study group?
Giving up two mornings a week is too much to ask.

Need more sleep? Retire an hour earlier the night before.
Nursery isn’t your ministry? No problem. What is your ministry?
Two mornings a week too great a sacrifice? Only if we forget Christ’s sacrifice for us.

Of course, not everyone can serve in these or other ways. But all of us can do something. Uphold others in prayer. Write notes of encouragement. Fold bulletins. Something.

Sadly, there may come a time when some will have to stand before the Lord and say,

“I was ready to die for You.
But living for You was just too inconvenient.”

May God—and Christians who have died for their faith—forgive us.

Inconvenient Service

A few weeks ago, I posted the following on my Facebook page:

“Is God calling you to serve Him? What is your answer?”

It’s a relatively straightforward question. Yes or no. And yet it’s often not so simple.God calls us to serve in our churches, neighborhoods, and Bible studies, and we come up with all kinds of reasons why we can’t….

I don’t have time.

We all have the same 24-hour day and 7-day week. Is it possible we’re filling our days with good things, but not the best things? With activities that someone else can – and should – do instead?

             My family comes first.

Absolutely! Then again, are we just telling our children about sacrifice and service and selflessness, or are we modeling it for them?

             I’m not qualified.

“God often qualifies the called, rather than calling the qualified.” Although this has almost become a cliché, it’s as true today as it was when Moses objected to God’s call because he felt unqualified.

             This is way out of my comfort zone.

Good. That means we’ll rely on the Lord rather than our own strength.

            It’s not a good time.

Is there ever a good time? If we wait for the ideal, convenient time to serve, it will never happen! (I’ve been waiting for things to get back to “normal” for decades!)

             There are too many obstacles.

“Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Do we believe this? Why not ask God to show Himself powerfully on our behalf and see what happens?

             I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Have we prayed about it? Really prayed about it? And then listened for the answer? Really listened?

Henry Varley, a friend of D.L. Moody, once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” Moody responded with a committed life fully sold out to God.

Will you and I do the same?

How has God provided when you’ve stepped out in faith to serve Him?