if God is real, why does He allow His people to be martyred?

The Murder of St. Peter the Martyr, 1509, Giovanni Bellini.

I’ve come to believe that God, in his wisdom, allows martyrdom in every generation in part because, without them, the reality of Christ’s death for us becomes increasingly blurry. . . . As we look at [the martyrs], the mist that sometimes enshrouds first-century Golgotha is burned away, and we see . . . the Lord nailed to the cross.

MARK GALLI – senior managing editor Christianity Today

I have tracked the persecution of Christians for a number of years, so I was intrigued by this quote from Mark Galli, senior managing editor for Christianity Today. Even though I have some reservations with the entire quote, Galli does address a spiritual deficiency that the believer must constantly guard against… forgetting what God has done for us. For scriptural support read Deuteronomy 8:10-20.

The lesson is this, when God allows His people to enjoy abundant blessings, we tend to envelope ourselves in the pleasure of the blessing and not only forget how we got to where we are, but we begin to convince ourselves we are responsible for the outcome.

WARNING: Blessing is the greatest enemy for the people of God, unless they keep the blessing in its proper perspective. It should alarm the church in America that ‘BLESSINGS’ seems to be its spiritual focus.

Galli’s quote may be apropos for the church in America, in that the vast majority of the people attending church with some regularity, very rarely if ever, give thought to the work of God at Golgotha, but this is quite the contrast for our brothers and sisters in the rest of the world. “Taking up their cross and following Jesus is a normal way of life.

I was reading the VOM’s Extreme Devotion post about an Iranian pastor who had escaped to the West. In Iran, arrest and police harassment were common experiences. This pastor had lost his home and job because of his faith. Now living in the West he was free to live and worship wherever he wished. How could he long for the days of persecution. “Sometimes I miss those days”, he said, “because I was so alive. I felt every day that Jesus was with me.” Very few faithful church attendees in America  would echo these sentiments.

I find Galli’s quote still leaves the believer somewhat short sighted of what Christ expects from His followers. “As we” only see what the martyrs endure, it gives us in America nothing more that a faint picture of the events of Golgotha. This blurry view of Golgotha is then overwhelmed by the seeming blessings the church enjoys in America. But when we endure the same level suffering that Christian (Iranian pastor) all around the persecuted world are enduring, we not only live the events of Golgotha but see with all clarity the very LORD of Calvary.

So to understand why God allows His people to suffer as martyrs we need look no further than the scripture…

 

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.”  John 15:18-25

So what was Jesus telling his disciples?

The world hates the believer- If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

This is a hard saying… who can understand it? We, in America, understand little about the world hating the believer. Now I am not speaking to the isolated incidences where there are certain individuals and even groups that hate what the church represents, but overall the church in America does not experience the hatred of the world.

The only explanation is that the church in America is so immersed in the world, that it is little more than a religious extension of the world. We could liken it to Hinduism in India, Buddhism in East Asia or Islam in the Middle East.

This is not the case in the rest of the world. To name the name of Christ or call oneself a Christian in most of Asia will put one in jeopardy. Jeopardy of loosing ones job, their material possessions, subject to beatings, imprisonment and even death. In other words, most professing Christians in America would not fit the bill in other parts of the world, nor could they endure the opposition the body of Christ is confronted with on a daily basis in North Korea, China, etc…

This hatred of God is a willful rejection of Him and His Christ- But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.But now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

It is important that we clear the religious fog that shrouds Christianity in America. Many associate Christianity with religion… religion with God. That is not the case at all. Christianity is NOT a religion. Christianity is comprised of individuals that are Born Again by the Spirit of God, resulting in these same individuals being placed spiritually into the Body of Christ. These individuals (Christians) which have been born again make up the True Church mentioned in the Word of God. Therefore a better description of Christianity would be that of a living organism instead of an organization. Just because someone is a member of a religious institution or attends a church with regularity does not make one a Christian. Just because an organization espouses a religious doctrine is no guarantee that they even know God. In fact if they do not align themselves with the Word of God it is evidence that they do not know God or His Christ, hence not born again or Christian at all. For there is no other name under heaven whereby a man may be saved… Jesus The Christ

Now when we think of religions that oppose the word of God, Wiccan, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Atheism, etc…comes to mind. What is very alarming, and becoming more common place, is the rise of this anti-Christ (religious) spirit in the church (organization not the organism) in America.

Just to reiterate, the anti-God / anti-Christ spirit can be borne by the likes of Methodist, Baptist, Lutherans, Catholics, Assemblies of God, etc…We could liken them to the religious folk of Jesus day. They were not only ignorant of God’s word but opposed His Christ at every turn, seeking to eradicate Him from their society.

The evidence that there are religious folk that hate God in the church can been seen in the opposition of His word. If the word of God is hated, the Word that was made flesh would receive the same if he were to stumble into the temple (church) today. This is a hard saying but he that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith.

The servant of Christ is the only one left that the hating world can touch- If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Time and time again we saw the religious leaders of Christ day move to take up stones to kill Him. This vehement hatred came from there father the devil. The lust of their father they desired to do .

Now Satan cannot touch God, for He is the Creator and Satan the creature. He can not touch Christ as He is seated at the right hand of the Father. This only leaves His body. It’s a trickle down effect and the Christian (the body of Christ, the believer) is the only one left for the world to persecute.

If you follow the persecuted church, the persecution is not because of the churches criminal activities or any wicked deeds they have done. They are persecuted simply for associating themselves with Jesus-Christianity. This vehement anti-Christ spirit prevailing in the world today can only kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, but the believer is commanded not to fear him; rather fear Him which is able to destroy both the soul and the body in hell.

 

Take up your cross and follow me-

The persecution that the body of Christ is meeting head on did not take God by surprise. In fact He told His believers it would come and the reason they would experience it.

It is in the midst of this grievous suffering that we get a sweet, in depth, intimate vision of Jesus Christ. This may seem sadistic at the surface, but it has scriptural support.  The body and the soul of the believer belongs to the LORD, and He is God!

 

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:55-60

When Christ exhorts us to take up ‘our cross’ and follow ‘Him’, rest assured He does not expect us to carry the cross, He will carry the cross for us. He has already carried His own and is fully capable of taking ours.

For my brothers and sisters that are suffering for the cause of Christ, rest assured, He is strong an faithful and will not leave you to your own!

Prayerfully consider the voice of Justin…

“If you are scourged or beheaded as a criminal, do you believe you will still ascend to heaven?” asked Rusticus, the city official.

“I believe that if I endure these things I shall have what Jesus promised me,” Justin said. “For I know his gift of life stays with all who remain in him, even until the end of the world.”
“Do you think then that you will receive some reward there?”
“I do not think it; I know it. I am certain of it.”
Rusticus sat back with impatience. “You must agree to offer a sacrifice to the gods.”
Justin stood unmoved. “No right-thinking person slanders communion with God by going to the godless.”
Rusticus had had enough. “Unless you obey, you will be mercilessly executed.”
“I know if I die for his testimony that I need not fear. I count dying for such a reason to be our salvation and confidence before Christ.” Justin answered.
The others who stood with Justin said, “Do what you will, for we are Christians and do not sacrifice to idols.”
Rusticus pronounced the sentence on the Christians who refused his demands. “These people, who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and do not obey the dictates of the emperor, shall be scourged and beheaded according to the law.”

Justin was a wise man… he listened to the voice of truth.

brother malachi

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    "Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me." Martin Niemoller

    Who will speak for those who can't speak for themselves?

    “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this’, does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will not He repay each one according to what he has done?” Proverbs 24:11-12