Matt 16:24-25 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ESV
I found my thoughts focusing upon the persecuted Christians throughout the world. Did you realize that Christians as a people group are the single most persecuted group in the world? Did you realize that of all the martyred Christians since the time of Christ Jesus, half of them have been martyred in the last century alone? I am not sure of the exact numbers but I believe that the number range maybe close to 100,000,000 Christians have died for their faith in the last century or so alone, with most of these occurring in the last half of the century and the beginning of this one.
Christians are dying for their simple faith in Christ Jesus every minute of everyday. They are not dying because of their hatred for the western culture or governments. They are not dying because they have some kind of a holy war against others. They are not dying because they are strapping bombs around themselves seeking to destroy themselves and any others they can along the way regardless of who they may be. They are not dying because they are out trying to destroy others for any reason at all. No!
Christians are simply being tortured, murdered, having their churches burned down or taken away, raped, disfigured, having their children stolen from them, etc. just because they are Christians who profess a love for and desire to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in over 40 nations of the world and this is only increasing. They suffer and die throughout the world simply because of this love for the Lord Jesus Christ and because they often are trying to share that love with those who do not know Christ Jesus. They are accused of intolerance all the while are being persecuted and destroyed by others whose intolerance leads them to maim and kill.
I am so very thankful for Christ Jesus and what he has done for me, my family and for those with whom I fellowship. I am so thankful to serve a Lord and Savior who died that I might live. I am so very thankful to serve the Lord God who has done everything needed for me to become his. I am so very grateful that He chose me to serve him. I am so very grateful that I can have in Christ Jesus a hope that is sure and true, that is now and forever. I am so very grateful to be a part of those, in spite of all of their obvious imperfections and flaws, are willing to live, suffer and if need be, die for their faith in Christ Jesus alone.
Jesus warned us about persecution:
Matthew 24:9-14 (ESV)
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
So, we do need to count the cost, the true cost of serving Christ Jesus.
Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV)
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?
Paul warned us as well:
2 Timothy 3:12-13 (ESV)
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Yet we have a hope, a hope that serves as an anchor for our souls:
Romans 8:35-39 (ESV)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
If you want to know more about the persecuted Christians around the world why don’t you check out these web sites:
The Voice of the Martyrs www.persecution.com
International Christian Concern www.persecution.org
Maybe as you check these sites out you will discover there is someone worth living for besides yourself and yes, even worth suffering and dying for. His name is Jesus, the only begotten son of the Most High God, the Lord God Almighty.