Posted by: Tamara Harrison | June 12, 2011

A Concept Unknown

“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers” (Matthew 24:9)

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)

We know these verses. We study and memorize them. But do we really have any concept of them?

I don’t personally know a single person who has been killed for his faith. I don’t know anyone who’s been arrested for his faith.

We hear about them. We read about them in missionary magazines and we may even pray for them. But do we really understand what happens to so many believers all over the world?

Does it ever become real to us?

It became real to me for the first time while reading the book “Tortured for Christ” by Richard Wurmbrand. The Romanian pastor recounts his 14 year experience in Communist prisons for his crime of following Jesus Christ.

He tells of the prisoners preaching to other cell-dwellers and guards, being beaten almost to death because of it, and picking themselves back up only to continue preaching from where they left off.

He tells of the songs of worship these prisoners would continue to sing, even though they knew severe, unspeakable beating would be the result.

He tells of the pastors who were tortured in the most unimaginable ways for their ministry, who were released and told to choose preaching or death, and who chose to preach that very evening.

“What the Communists have done to Christians surpasses any possibility of human understanding. I have seen the Communists whose faces while torturing believers shone with rapturous joy. They cried out while torturing the Christians, “We are the devil!” (pg. 35).

Do we truly know of the spiritual warfare that permeates the world?

One Torturer said:

“I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart” (pg 36).

“Other things simply cannot be told. My heart would fail if I should tell them again and again. They are too terrible and obscene to put in writing. This is what your brothers in Christ went through and go through now!” (pg 37).

I was brought to tears many times while reading the accounts of the tortures that have been done to these faithful believers.

I was brought to a new awareness.

And suddenly I was brought to a realization that I was very uncomfortable with.

I was uncomfortable with the fact that I am so comfortable in North America.

The psalms are filled with accounts of believers who lived daily in fear of the enemies who wanted to kill them, and I realized that I don’t have a single physical enemy in the whole world. Sure, there may be people who really don’t like me, but I don’t have even the slightest concept of what it means to choose Jesus or choose death.

And that made me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with the comfort of living the way I do. Uncomfortable with the luxuries I enjoy on a daily basis. Uncomfortable with the abilities and freedoms I have as a citizen in a free nation.

Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for the people who have fought for our freedom here in North America. That freedom came at a great price and I want this type of freedom for every nation.

But I think in getting used to this freedom we have lost something on a spiritual level. We have lost the sense of the true value of Jesus Christ, the value that moves us to put our lives on the line for our faith.

And to be perfectly honest, I think we’re missing out. Missing out on the perseverance that comes when our faith is tested to the point of death. Missing out on the joy that comes when all you have in life is Christ. Missing out on the peace that comes from loving the enemies that have done terrible things to you. Missing out on what it truly means to live for Christ and die for Christ.

At this point you probably think I’m crazy or ungrateful for my freedom, so I’ll use the words of Wurmbrand who lived through the tortures and came to the West to tell people about it.

“We could not think anymore. In our darkest hours of torture, the Son of Man came to us, making the prison walls shine like diamonds and filling the cells with light…the Spirit rejoiced in the Lord. We would not have given up this joy for that of kingly palaces” (pg 78).

I suffer in the West more than I did in Communist lands. My suffering consists first of all in the longing after the unspeakable beauties of the Underground Church…whoever had known the spiritual beauty of the Underground Church cannot be satisfied anymore with the emptiness of some Western churches” (pg 84-85).

“I can never describe the beauty of this Church! Often, after a secret service, Christians were caught and sent to prison. There, Christians wear chains with the gladness with which a bride wears a precious jewel received from her beloved…I have found truly joyful Christians only in the Bible, in the Underground Church, and in prison” (pg 94).

These people who were tortured in prison didn’t discuss theology, whether pre-millennialism or post-millenialism is correct, whether sprinkling or emerging is the best form of baptism. No, “hungry, beaten, and drugged, we had forgotten theology and the Bible. We had forgotten the ‘truths about the Truth,’ therefore we lived in ‘THE Truth’ ” (pg. 78).

These people gained something we don’t have a true concept of. And I want that concept. Of course I’m not saying that I want the pain and torture but these testimonies are evidence that with the pain comes a much greater reward, a greater intimacy with Jesus Christ, a greater knowledge of what He did for us, a greater confidence in Him, a greater passion for Him.

So since I don’t live in one of these countries, and I’m not at risk of being martyred for my faith, does that mean I can’t live radically for Christ in America?

The fact is, God brought me here. I live here. As far as I know, I’m staying here. And I don’t think there’s a place in the world that can limit God’s power to stir things up through His children.

What if living in the Western world is, in a different sense, as hard as living in a Communist jail?

Hard in the sense that it is more of a challenge to be known for Who we believe in.

Hard in the sense that this country practices tolerance on such a level that we are simply accepted for what we believe.

Hard in the sense that most people we talk to about Christ say “that’s great for you, but it’s just not for me”.

Maybe after knowing just how hard it is to make Christ known we will truly step out and be proactive in making Him known.

Step out in the hundreds of decisions we make every day.

Step out in the little decisions and in the big ones.

Step out while talking to the woman in the grocery store.

Step out when you see that homeless man at the side of the road.

Sure, it may be uncomfortable at first, but aren’t you tired of the comfortable?

Step out.

Get your free copy of “Tortured for Christ” here: http://www.persecution.com/

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