Sunday 5th July, 2015

The Persecuted Brothers and Sisters - Part 1

I remember the day I saw my sister Lorraine get pushed over by a bigger kid down our street.  I was the eldest by two years and when she hit the ground a fury welled up inside that demanded action.

I ran to her, picked her up, and then chased the assailant all the way to their home.  I didn’t catch them, but two things surprised me that day.  

First, the depth of love I had for my little sister was so powerful it demanded action.  

Second, the depth of love and appreciation she had for me afterwards.  She was so happy to see that her big brother cared for her and was willing to comfort her, defend her, and seek justice.

How should we feel about our brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted all over the world?  Should we not feel the same and act for their benefit with all our might?  Would that not encourage them and us at the same time?

The Apostle Paul urges us to join him (and others) in suffering for the gospel.  

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. - 2 Timothy 1:8

The Apostle Peter encourages us to have an attitude that doesn’t shy away from suffering because it has a cleansing effect.  

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.  As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. - 1 Peter 4:1-2

When we suffer for Christ the temptation to indulge in sin is killed off.  No wonder the church in the west is beset by indifference and compromise to all manner of moral evil.  

It would seem that there is a simple yet profound equation at work in the church.  Comfort = sloth and sin.  Persecution = obedience and holiness.  Which do you think results in joy?  Comfort or Persecution?

Personally, I have begun to partner with Open Doors.  This an organisation that prays, provides, supports, and equips the persecuted church.  

Check them out at www.opendoors.org.au

Next week I will elaborate more on my dream to see the church in Geelong and Western Victoria engage and join in the joyous suffering for the gospel with the saints.

Grace and Hope,
Stephen