American Christians talk about persecution but we have no idea what it really means to relinquish physical safety and comfort for the sake of Christ. Our Bible studies are often coffee sipping affairs hosted in (preferably) cozy surroundings with pastries at hand. I know because I do this myself.
There is nothing wrong with this in itself. But when we refuse to set aside our toasted bagels and steeped tea to sacrifice even a little—this is when we have a problem. We fail to remember there are others of us out there living in places where every day they may face insult, imprisonment, torture or death for confessing Jesus as Lord. Yes, this still happens today. Sacrificing Sunday afternoon football is not even a question.
Let their remembrance spur us to pray. Let their example cause us to lay at the altar our petty disagreements regarding worship styles or church forms. Let us be humbled.
Let us recognize our consumerism for what it is—a subtle yet potent barbiturate. It takes nothing more than ease to waylay a champion. The writer of Hebrews is right when he observed that by now we should be fully mature, strong and capable of equipping many, many people for life and godliness but instead we are still dependent on milk for babies, unable to help even each other.
“Hi, how are you doing?”
“Fine. Just fine.”
“Nice weather we’re having.”
“Yes, it is.”
“So, what’s new?”
“Oh, nothing much.”
We are so far from running the race marked out for us we’ve even forgotten there is a race. Maybe we need a storm to rouse us from our slumber. How tragic that those who’ve been called by Jesus exchange his cross for “nothing much.” The Christian should be the last person on earth that testifies nothing’s new.