“Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes…” Luke 12:37
God is looking for faithful servants who are obedient, dependable, and consistent as they wait for Christ’s return! There are many things that can distract and hinder us from faithfulness to Him, among them possessions, jobs, other people, laziness, and wrong priorities. But if we really get to heart of the matter, Jesus states it quite plainly in John 14:15: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” It seems that the real problem, therefore, is that too often we love something or someone more than God, and this keeps us from being fully and consistently obedient to Him.
I had the privilege of attending a Voice of the Martyrs conference recently, and I was truly challenged by the countless stories of Christians who have chosen to put obedience to Christ first, at great personal cost, thereby demonstrating the depth of their love for Him. On the way to the conference, I was thinking about how little we know of the true cost of discipleship in this country and couldn’t help wondering how much we who have never had to truly suffer for the sake of Christ miss out on in our relationship with Him.
God used the very first speaker at the conference to speak to my heart about this very thing. He shared stories about believers suffering persecution in many different countries as faithful witnesses for Jesus. Then he brought it home by giving some biblical characteristics of all witnesses for Christ, regardless of where in the world they are or what their circumstances may be. His second point, and that which really struck me, was that witnesses serve God wherever they are. In God’s sovereignty, He has chosen to place me at this time in this country and for some reason has kept me from experiencing the heat of persecution, at least for now. This is not something I deserve any more than anyone else, but certainly something I should be thankful for! Additionally, however, I was challenged to consider that with great privilege comes great responsibility.
I have been blessed not to have to face persecution in this country, but this means that I have an opportunity, yes, a responsibility, to minister to those who do experience it on a regular basis! I have been blessed with such abundance, for the very purpose of being able to share with those who have much less! In the Body of Christ, when one member suffers, we all suffer together, and this extends to the Body of Christ spread around the world! Hebrews 13:3 exhorts us to “remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” In 2 Timothy 1:8, Paul tells Timothy, “Don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me, His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the Gospel, relying on the power of God.” As we remember those who are suffering and lift them up before God in prayer, we are in a very real sense identifying with them and participating in their suffering!
Someday, Christians here, too, may face much more intense persecution – that day may be coming sooner than we think. Regardless, my responsibility wherever God may place me is to be faithfully obedient, no matter what He asks me to do, and this includes identifying with my family in Christ around the globe in their sufferings by praying diligently for them and giving of my time and resources to be an encouragement to them. There are many tangible ways that this can be done, and the Voice of the Martyrs is one organization that has facilitated serving our persecuted brethren. Their website www.persecution.com offers many such opportunities to get involved.
To whom much has been given, much will be required! May we each be found faithful in using all that we have been given for the glory of God, by being effective witnesses for Christ right where He has placed us and by upholding those who are paying a great price for their testimony! May the blessings and freedoms we enjoy not cause us to become spiritually lethargic or apathetic, but that we would be diligent and alert in serving the Lord, so that when He returns He may find us ready to meet Him with joy!