Thursday, July 17, 2014

Resolution 9: Your Family Wants to Kill You

Last month, I became aware of the story of Josef after seeing Al Mohler's tweet, strongly encouraging everyone to read the harrowing story of this Christian "on the run in Afghanistan." 

I read the article and was amazed. I was amazed to see the NYT highlighting the plight of a persecuted Christian. Aside from the trending "bring back our girls" campaign that most have now forgotten, the persecution of Christians rarely makes headlines. If you haven't read the article yet, you can find it here. Praise God that this testimony was seen by the world. 

The most amazing that about this story was that God's power was on display. While the NYT author didn't explicitly glorify God, the testimony of Josef's faith did. Here is a man who was willing to turn his back on his family, culture, and religion; all for Jesus Christ. He knew it could cost his life but he decided to follow Jesus. He knows he might be killed for his Christian faith any day now, and yet he refuses to deny Christ. 

That is a powerful display of the power of God in Jesus Christ. The power to take an unbelieving Muslim and change him into a follower of Jesus who is willing to die for his savior. 

Christians in the West speak of "dying for Jesus" when they give up such mundane things as too much Starbucks or eating one less cookie. Sometimes, Western Christians come a little closer to an awareness of literal death for Jesus when they go on a short term missions trip in a third-world context, or when they do an evangelistic outreach "in the hood." 

But for Josef, the reality of martyrdom is just around the corner. Literally. It's lurking behind the tinted windows of an unmarked van, in the footsteps he hears scraping the street outside his flimsy door, in the faces of the men he once knew as brothers and uncles. Josef, like many other Christians in similar contexts, might take his last breath today. 

For Christians like Josef, death is an ever present reality. I imagine that Josef thinks of his death often. When he misses his family. When he misses the comforts of home. When he reads his Bible. Death is waiting.

Resolution 9 reminds Christian men to think of their death often. This is not morbid introspection. This is salvation verification (2 Cor 13:5). Josef has counted the cost and by God's grace is ready to die for Jesus. In his own words, “My body is in prison, but my soul is free.” The soul free in Jesus is ready to die for Jesus. 

Since most of my readers are Christians here in the U.S.A., I would encourage you to read this article about Josef. Put yourself in his shoes and imagine your family wanting to kill you for your faith. Go ahead, imagine it. 

Think about your brother or cousin hunting you with a machete in his hand, ready to sever your now-infidel head from your body. Think about your parents and uncles, standing by as you are beaten to a bloody pulp for embracing Jesus. Think about death for Christ - and then pray. 

Pray for Josef and the thousands of other Christians like him who face death for Jesus on a daily basis. Pray that they will stand fast in their faith. Pray that their persecutors will come to faith in Jesus. And pray that you will be strengthened in your faith; a faith strong enough to say, "my body is in prison, but my soul is free."

Sound off in the comments: Have you ever been persecuted for your faith?

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