Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Crowned with Honor

Perhaps most of the Christian world is already aware of the brutal murders in Turkey recently, where 3 of our brothers in Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for their faith, but I doubt it. Most of us are so wrapped up in our high-speed American lives that things like this just pass us by without much thought. I know I tend to be like that. I was so glad that my friend Jenn posted about this horrific event. If you want to read about it, I'll point you to this article, which I link here with a warning (it does describe the violence that occurred).

I was blown away by this statement from one of the widows
, Shemsa. She told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”

She feels crowned with honor because the Lord judged her worthy to give Him this sacrifice. My dear Christian sisters, how often do we lash out in pride because we feel as though our husband does not give us the respect we deserve, or feel frustrated due to what we consider unfair lack of possessions or beauty or prestige? We sigh discontentedly at the mirror over a bad hair day and jealously eye the cute outfit (or children, or car, or home) of the girl next door. Sobering, isn't it? We certainly do not know suffering like this, and we grow lazy and greedy because of the abundance of the blessing we enjoy.

I recently heard John Piper remark that it is difficult to be a Christian in posh surroundings (meaning the lovely Seminary we attend). This is true, becau
se we begin to think our comforts are necessities and our indulgences gods. More than anything, the news of these deaths have made me reflect on what a complacent Christian I am. I think you'll find these closing words from the article about the martyrs to be an inspiration, and I'll urge you to search your own heart:
"But we know He (Christ) did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the un-subduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ."


Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about this. I did not know. Our family has become more aware of the plight of Christian martyrs around the world this past year, after reading publications from The Voice of the Martyrs and Gospel for Asia. We keep a bowl on the counter to collect change. When the bowl is full, we write a check and send it to help the martyrs.

Missionary Tony Fox visited our church and shared the plight of Chinese Christians. He told of a man whose son was imprisoned for his faith. Talking with the man, Mr. Fox expected him to say how difficult it was for him to see his son suffering. The man responded that he counted it a privilege for his son to be worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ.

As American Christians, we don't experience persecution like those in other parts of the world. May we constantly be reminded of what will make an impact for eternity.

James and Christen said...

I am so challenged and moved as I read this article. I loved the reminder that Jesus was with them as they died. That they ask for prayer for perserverance not an end to persecution.

Is this the future for all christians? In all the world? I am hearing that warning from a few believers here.

Oh, that I will live my life now in a way that would glorify my Savior and be ready always to lay down my life for Him.

katydidsmiles said...

I received an email of the article and the letter from the Church in Turkey. It was almost as if it were straight from the New Testament.
What hit me was their statement about praying not for less persecution but for perseverance.
And it hit me exactly what you said - what a complacent Christian I am and what a complacent world we live in. You said it so eloquently - - the bad hair day, someone not respecting us, ouch, ouch, and ouch again.
I recently participated in a 30-hour famine with my youth. We had a little devotional time reflecting on contentment. I was blown away by these kids. They admitted that it would be easier to follow Christ in want than in their abundance because they would be forced to turn to Him.
Right now in Dallas, we are having a 40 day tent revival. It's been an amazing experience. It's not huge in the sense that masses of people come every night or even masses of people getting saved, what is HUGE is the number of different churches and denominations involved and the Spirit's outpouring over the event. You can tangibly taste the Spirit. You can nearly SEE His Glory. I digress - - the preacher last Saturday (check out dallasrevival.org if you'd like to know who it was) asked us if we were being inconvenienced for Christ and he spoke of this very issue. Are we living complacently or are we living sacrificially?

I've had a falling out with an old friend from Bible College. I have been accused of all kinds of atrocities. What struck me today as I was driving around is that I was hard pressed to feel sympathy for her cause since the majority of the atrocities were regarding convenience and our little lives. Not that I seek conflict or want to deny loving our neighbor - - oh, I'm just rambling, it's what is on my mind - - - - when I look at God's grand scheme, when I consider the atrocities of the church in Turkey, my friend's whinings about being inconvenienced leave me wanting to hang up the phone. NOT that I don't do my fair share of whining . . . oh sigh,

Thanks for this post and the reminder!!!!