Today something struck me hard to the point of tears. I don’t have an angst to intercede for my brothers and sisters across the world who are being killed for their faith. I’d like to think I pray as often as I remember to, but in all honesty I didn’t really care to pray…until today. I know a lot of chaos is happening in the Middle East and genocide has been a problem in this world over several generations, but I am referring specifically to Christian genocide currently in Iraq. People are dying in the name of Jesus right now as I type. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) is beheading children, raping and killing women, and hanging men. Several thousand Christians in Iraq are fleeing the country because of it. I don’t know specifics and I am not blogging on here to talk politics, but rather a conviction that God blind-sighted me with. I began pleading with God to intercede on behalf of my brothers and sisters. After all, God’s word says that I am to intercede for them. Believers are united by the blood of Christ, by the gospel. We are to encourage one another and intercede in prayer for one another. If my heart isn’t aching over the heart-breaking reality that is going on in the Middle East, then there’s something wrong in my heart. I want my heart to align with God’s will.
It’s hard to believe that this is actually happening in our world. Here I am in the United States, with freedom to publicly blog about my faith in Christ. I may experience varying degrees of persecution for proclaiming Jesus as my Savior, but there has not been a day where I have had to fear for my life in the name of Jesus. Honestly, when I look at Philippians 1:20, I don’t have to focus on the death part as much as the life part. Philippians 1:20-21 says “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The goal for Christians is to cherish and treasure Christ above life itself. For some of my brothers and sisters, that means they literally will die voluntarily because they understand that Christ is better than life itself. And for me (and the majority of others in America) it is going to look a lot different, but the goal and the call of God is the same. We are to make Christ look like the glorious treasure that he is, by savoring him above life. That means that in the life we are given, we can say that Jesus is more satisfying than our thick bank accounts, our education, our job, our family, our nice cars. We must examine whether we are truly living for Christ. That doesn’t mean simply going to church on Sundays, learning the Christianese language, and meeting up with people every week to talk about Jesus.
The Christian life is not about a one-time decision you made for Jesus just so you could be saved from hell. It’s so much more than that. And it’s so much more worth it to go deeper. To glorify God and to be satisfied are not in opposition with each other. We (I) often settle for cheap comforts and false ideas of what life is about when we (I) could be feasting on so much more, namely in eternal things. I have to constantly ask myself if Christ is sufficient for me. I know that he is sufficient but if my desires are failing to line up with that truth, I clearly don’t believe he is. I want to hold on to certain things and not live as if Christ is my life (Phil. 1:20) because I think that if they are taken away, he won’t be enough. Don’t get me wrong, God’s gifts are beautiful. But the point of the gifts are to cherish the Giver and see him as even more beautiful. It’s not wrong for me to have nice things, but if they dictate where I put my worth and fail to point to Jesus, I am not truly living for Jesus. It is a false delusion for me to settle for something less than Christ. Jesus is the only eternal one that we could possibly live or die for. That is why you see people dying right now in the name of Christ, and why you see people living for Christ.
Brothers and sisters, are you striving to make Christ honored in your life? Are you resting in the unwavering identity that he has purchased for you on the cross? Are you fighting to seek joy in Christ and desire him above the fleeting pleasures of this world? These are questions I am convicted of as I reflect on what is happening in Iraq right now, because although I may not have to die in the name of Jesus (or I might), right now I am to live for the name of Jesus. Galatians 2:20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
For His glory,