Beside Still Waters: Stand firm and win life

Therese Apel

(Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash)

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. – Luke 21:12-19

It always blows my mind when I hear the talking heads on Fox News talk about how persecuted American Christians are, and I see all the people who pile on. It’s true that there’s some discrimination, but I don’t know of a time that a Christian has been thrown from the top of a tower or beheaded on a beach by a hooded executioner on video. I don’t know of a time Christians have been run out of their cities, or a time that we’ve been forced to wear an identifying mark on our clothes and then loaded into a boxcar to go to a gas chamber.

In America, we are still blessed to live in a country where we are, as a whole, safe.

Right here, though, Jesus is telling us that there will be a time when we are not. Undoubtedly that time is coming. Maybe we even see it on the horizon from here. But right now is when we should be preparing to stand firm. This is where we build our courage and our audience. Now is when we begin to be the ones who stand for what’s right, the ones who speak the truth, the ones who lead those who need direction.

When the time comes that we are persecuted, I can’t think of a way to let God down more than to be the one that ISN’T persecuted because nobody has seen you stand. You may live under the radar, but what does that really mean in eternity. It means you were neutral. You weren’t a threat to the forces of darkness. You were lukewarm. We know that doesn’t go well at the end now, does it? Ask the church of Laodicea.

“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:16

There’s a story I heard as a child of an underground church in Nazi Germany during WWII. They were worshiping on a Sunday and some German soldiers came in. They threatened the congregation at gunpoint, saying, “If you don’t renounce Jesus Christ, we’ll kill you all.”

One by one, a large portion of the congregation got up and walked out, denouncing their Lord. When all who were going to leave had left, the soldiers locked the door behind them and sat down in the pews.

“We didn’t want to worship with anyone who would not die for Christ,” they said.

Are you still sitting in the church? Or are you letting society silence you? Are you the coward walking out the back door, not only turning your back on God but also your fellow Christians?

If you’re going to walk out, go on now. Things are about to get messy and God’s people need to have each other’s backs.

Stand firm, and you will win life. ❤️

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