Sunday, November 11, 2012

Of Whom The World Was Not Worthy

Standing with the persecuted church
"Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented - of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth." 
- Hebrews 11:35-38, NKJV
   Over the last week beginning November 4th with the International Day of Prayer [1], Willingdon Church participated in a week of prayer for persecuted Christians worldwide. At the culmination of this last week, we had the privilege of hearing Reverend Paul Johnson, Executive Director of Open Doors Canada [2] preach at Willingdon's sunday service today. I was fortunate to have the chance to have a long personal conversation with him after everyone had gone home.

    Much of what we talked about that was close to our own hearts - missions, evangelism, theology, truth, suffering, life, faith, practice, sacrifice, purpose - reminded me of my own convictions in post I had written a week or two ago, "To The Last Drop of Blood." In the process, I was also reminded of the verses of Hebrews 11:35-38 that I've quoted above.

   All of these challenge me once more as I examine my own life and conscience. I am reminded of my priorities and "first things", as one life among many others that have been called, more than an organization - a family. I am reminded that as much as my life and purpose are precious to God, so are those of others that form His church, of whom it is said, "a great multitude which no one could number, of all all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues." Where then, are my thoughts and concern for them, in the midst of all that crowds into my life clamouring for my attention? I was convicted by Rev. Johnson's observation during his sermon, that he found his own prayer life in want of fervor and discipline in comparison to those fellow believers whom he has encountered of the persecuted church around the globe. Is too much comfort and too little devotion slowly asphyxiating me? 

   I was also reminded by my Bible that while I am often found living my life in silent contemplation of my own "bubble world", a great cry has been heard in heaven. Blood cries out from the ground and voices have not been silent in heaven, of those whose blood has been spilt on account of the Christ they have followed, because they " did not love their lives, even unto death" :

"...I saw under the altar, the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" - Revelation 6:9-10, NKJV

While the blood and voices of the slain cry out on their own behalf,
why is mine not heard on behalf of the church that is being dragged to the slaughter?
And when asked of me, am I willing to join them?

     "Watch and pray," Jesus said, "lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Just as I am in desperate need of the good news of the Gospel preached to me everyday while struggling along the path of sanctification, so too do I need a daily reminder of what that entails in my life as part of the larger family in which I find myself:

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnared us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV

- The Wisdom Seeker